New Audio Available for Media Use: Election Security Matters in the 2022 Midterms


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

New Audio Available for Media Use: Election Security Matters in the 2022 Midterms

BALTIMORE, MD, November 7, 2022 – New audio is available for media use featuring Natalie Scala, an associate professor and director of the graduate programs in supply chain in the College of Business and Economics at Towson University. She’s also a faculty Affiliate Associate Research Scientist at the Applied Research Lab for Intelligence and Security at the University of Maryland. Scala speaks about election security in the 2022 Midterms. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. What follows are four questions and responses. These responses were provided on November 7, 2022.



Question 1: What are most voters concerned about when election security is a concern?

Time Cue: :29, Soundbite Duration: :42

“My research lab Empowering Secure Elections just ran a survey in October 2022 and we asked very similar questions to this. Some of the themes we saw from a sample across the United States really focused around domestic-based misinformation, misinformation from political parties, political candidate’s things like that. Legitimate concerns of elections like there's some people who actually want to know if the election is safe, but they're frustrated that has it has become a partisan angle; qualified and legitimate poll workers – We obviously want people who are educated in the process and are able to execute the election – potential cyber threats to elections. And then gerrymandering and the associated voter suppression that comes along with it.”  



Question 2: What are the chief election security concerns for in-person balloting?

Time Cue: 1:14, Soundbite Duration: :41

“For in-person balloting we have three main cybersecurity or security related concerns we look at. We look at potential cyber threats, potential insider threats, and then potential physical threats to elections. When we think about cyber threats, it could be anything from electronic equipment plugged in or even not on the network as well. Physical threats that have to do with the equipment itself. We want to make sure it's not tampered with and the voting equipment has integrity to it. And then insider threats. You know are poll workers – most likely if they do make a mistake, it's an honest mistake but we don't want those to happen. We obviously don't want anyone working in the process there to be inflicting harm.



Question 3: When it comes to mail in ballots, what are the election security concerns?

Time Cue: 01:58, Soundbite Duration: :52

“For mail in ballots we look at insider threats, potential external threats from foreign adversaries, and then potential voter error threats. And threats of most concern related to voter error. Because typically when a voter forgets to sign the ballot or does not sign the ballot correctly, we've seen that sometimes voters put their birth date on the ballot rather than the day they voted. Small errors like that, or failure to bundle their ballot correctly. They forget to include all the pieces and papers that they need to include with their ballot. In terms of external or adversarial errors, we don't want any sort of messenger ballots or people influencing votes at a debate party or anything like that. And then with insider threats – those who are part of the process – accidental loss of ballots, failure to include the correct ballot or stuff the envelope appropriately when sending it out, or potential ballots that might be lost in a mailroom.”



Question 4: How can policymakers and elections officials ensure secure elections?

Time Cue: 02:45, Soundbite Duration: 1:04

“Policymakers and elections officials just need to stay focused on the mission. They have executed elections for decades. Even before 2016 or 2020 we had a strong history of elections in this country of being secure. This discussion happened recently. It can be politically motivated at times. But in terms of mail balloting, no new threats or process changes that we saw in 2020 were actually highly concerning or high threat. And this is based on the analysis that my research lab did. For example, drop boxes are not a problem. They do not bring significant risk into the process. Elections officials and policymakers should train their poll workers to identify and mitigate potential cyber physical or insider threats at polling places. We've created training to help with that. And mail voting increases access. It's actually more difficult for an adversary to interfere in mail voting. So, more access means more participation from the electorate. More participation actually inherently leads to a more secure election.” 


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With more than 12,000 members from around the world, INFORMS is the largest association for the decision and data sciences, made up of professionals and students. INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results.