Ensuring security in New Jersey’s upcoming election season

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way says state voting has never been hacked. But that doesn’t mean the state is going to let its guard down heading into this upcoming election season.

On Tuesday, clerks, supervisors and their teams from 14 states and all 21 New Jersey counties tested their preparedness for the unexpected on Election Day, using a series of tabletop exercises given out by New Jersey state officials.

What’s the state doing to ensure a secure election? Seven New Jersey counties are part of a pilot program that uses voter-verified paper balloting, printing the voter’s choice like a receipt that is subsequently secured in case of a recount. It’s estimated the program would cost $80 to $100 million to implement statewide. Two counties, Warren and Union, will do it for November.

Additionally, New Jersey will be tapping federal Help America Vote Act dollars to upgrade its election system.

“One of the things we’ve done is working with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness,” Robert Giles, state director of elections. “We are actually paying for one of their employees to be dedicated full time to elections so he can act as a liaison to our counties, as well as our office.”

Giles says steps include assessments of and upgrades for cyber systems and physical buildings. In some cases, it comes down to the basics, like installing cameras on buildings and better locks on doors.