MISSOULA — Security has been front and center in much of the discussion surrounding the upcoming elections.
Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton toured the new Missoula election office on Russell Street on Wednesday and discussed election security with the staff.
“Luckily in Montana our elections are not online. So, you can't hack into something that's not online,” Stapleton said. “But where were venerable, and this is answers another question which is -- the most vulnerabilities to our system are actually at the local level,” he added.
A federal grant given to the state is providing Missoula, and several other counties, a boost in part to help improve security.
Congress awarded $3.1 million to the state of Montana and the funds were distributed largely based on population. The Missoula County Elections Office learned on Wednesday they will receive just under $135,000.
Missoula Interim Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman says money from the grant will likely be used for security cameras, key card access points, and other costs associated with moving into their new facility. He also said they are lucky to have a great system currently in place to ensure cyber security.
“All of our election equipment is air gapped. So everything that counts a vote on election day is never hooked up to the internet,” Seaman explained. “We test, certify it, re-test it on Election Day. We verify seal numbers to make sure it’s ready to go. We continue to do all of this. None of this is new practices for us.”
The Missoula County Elections Office recently moved into a new facility on Russell Street near the intersection with Wyoming Street.