ELECTION PROTECTION: Statewide and local officials work to keep votes safe and secure

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SMITH COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Keeping your vote secure, that’s what election administrators in East Texas and across the country are trying to do, in spite of the obstacles some people have faced at the polls.

The November 2019 elections in Smith County showed some challenges including voter congestion in some locations and lack of numbers in others.

“Voters did not know that they could go to another voting place,” said one voter. “We need to share information, so they know they have options.”

Problems that surfaced were not utilizing every available machine, early voting locations being closed, not enough training for workers, and internet problems.

“We did not fulfill our obligations to this community to do elections in the way they need to be done, they were accurate, but we had a lot of problems we need to address,” said Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran.

Altogether, these issues slowed the November polls to a crawl.

Officials took a deep dive into the problems and promised to do better by opening all early voting locations, using every available machine, having technicians on-site to help, and more training for workers.

“The long lines in terms of equipment will not be an issue you can still have a line if you have a lot of people coming out in the primary to vote but we will have all of our resources in place, the connectivity we will have that in place,” said Karen Nelson, Smith County Election Administrator. “We want to check that and make sure are we using the right WiFi.”

Voters will be showing up to local polls on Tuesday for the primary, but lawmakers across the U.S. are still working to make sure the November presidential election remains un-compromised.

“You don’t have to be in the NSA or the CIA to know that Russia is trying to meddle in our elections,” said Texas Republican Congressman Will Hurd.

“They want to give democracy a bad name,” said Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn.

He says Russia doesn’t care who wins in November but wants voters to question the electoral system.

“Trying to divide America and disrupt people, create chaos,” said Senator Cornyn.

In response, the Department of Homeland Security has set up a cyber situational awareness room, where state and local election authorities can call for help if necessary.

Members of Congress are also making a lot of effort to make sure your vote counts, like recently grilling the CEOs of the three biggest voting equipment manufacturers in the country.

“Is there any method of voting that’s 100% secure?” asked Illinois Republican Congressman Rodney Davis.

“No, no, no,” answered all three companies.

When California Democrat Zoe Lofgren asked them about the security of their own employees they said…

“We learned in special counsel Mueller’s report that Russian intelligence officers targeted employees of voting technology companies,” said Lofgren.

CEO of Dominion Voting Systems John Pollis says they want to make sure that doesn’t happen this November.

“Older, end of life technology is being replaced with certified solutions that produce paper records for auditing and resilience,” said Pollis.

And they urged the manufacturers to have the machines made right here in America instead of outsourcing.

“We want to protect our elections, we want to make sure your machines are un-hackable,” said Davis.

While several election-security bills are stalled in Congress, East Texas officials are determined to do everything they can at the local level.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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