Mail-in ballots at Ada County Elections office

Boxes of requests for absentee ballots wait for processing at the Ada County Elections office, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

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BOISE — The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is working with a Boise-based cybersecurity company to track election security-related issues during the state’s unprecedented absentee ballot election.

According to a press release, PlexTrac will allow the secretary of state election cybersecurity team to collaborate with every county in the state about any election security issues that come up.

Tuesday, the day of the primary election, was the last day for voters to request a ballot. Completed ballots are due June 2, when results will be released.

Foster Cronyn, deputy secretary of state, said the office has implemented several tools over previous election years that monitor and report on election security.

“PlexTrac consolidates this very complex information into an organized, actionable report for our cyber security analysts,” Cronyn said. “In previous elections, we have had to manually review these reports and look for patterns. Although this election is absentee ballot only, these are still requested, tallied and reported on using large online computing systems. PlexTrac aggregates security reports from these systems.”

Dan DeCloss, PlexTrac CEO, said the system will also help each county report its security progress and any issues to the secretary of state as the election moves forward.

”PlexTrac is a centralized platform to aggregate data and to facilitate communication between the Secretary of State’s office and the county security team so they can report security compliance,” DeCloss said.Regarding specific security concerns for an absentee ballot election, Cronyn said he avoids discussion on specific security threats, but said the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office is “in close communication with the secretary of state offices around the country, as well as federal offices such as the FBI and Homeland Security for advice, guidance and regulations around (Tuesday’s) election.”

“Secretary Denney’s office is, to the best of my knowledge, in compliance with what we’ve been warned to watch for,” Cronyn said. “Additionally, it is important to note that we’ve been processing absentee ballots in the state for years, so while the volume is much higher today, the process remains mature and basically the same.”

To ensure absentee ballots are filled out by the proper voter, Cronyn said the county clerks’ offices are going through a process to validate ballot signatures from the absentee ballot envelope against the signature contained in the voter registration database. He said the county election workers are doing this process manually, though he said in the future, there will be a new system that helps match the signatures with less manual involvement.

Rachel Spacek is the Latino Affairs and Canyon County reporter for the Idaho Press. You can reach her at rspacek@idahopress.com. Follow her on twitter @RachelSpacek.

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