With presidential debates heating up for the 2020 election, the state election board is busy behind the scenes preparing.
“Oklahoma has one of the most accurate, most secure voting systems in the world, but we don’t like sitting on our laurels. We’re always looking for ways to improve security,” said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax.
Ziriax said, in his testimony to congress in June, voter confidence is a top priority.
“If citizens lose faith in our elections, then we are at risk of losing our very representative republic,” he said to congress.
Those words coming a month before the Brennan Center released a new study saying all 50 states need more funding for election security.
Oklahoma receives more than $5 million from the federal government. Officials are now looking to use that to buy software and upgrade hardware.
“And, we’re working with the state’s cyber command on the ways to best spend that.”
Oklahoma’s current paper-based voting equipment was implemented in 2012 but has already reached the halfway point of its lifespan. That’s why a team is hard at work to ensure there are no issues.
“The state election board employs technicians whose job it is to perform routine maintenance on the voting devices and also to fix them if there is a breakdown,” Ziriax said.
The state is also taking steps to boost voter’s confidence in the system after U.S. Intelligence officials confirm Russia interfered in the 2016 elections, however officials say it was not through any voting.
“At the end of the day what they’re really trying to do is to make sure that Americans are at each other’s throats and are constantly fighting which is why they are picking hot button issues and try to get people on both sides riled up,” Ziriax said.
Currently, 40 states in the U.S. do a post-election audit to ensure the results are correct. Oklahoma isn’t one of them, but that will change next year with the passing of a new law allowing those audits.
“In 2020, Oklahoma will most likely be doing a review of results after the fact just to verify that those are correct so the public can have confidence in the results.”
Ziriax said no voting device is ever connected to the internet. He also said hackers attempted to probe the state’s I.T. system but were unsuccessful.
For election coverage and online resources visit www.ok.gov/elections.