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Washington National Guard & State Guard Help Keep Voting System Secure For Upcoming Elections

The Washington State Guard (State Defense Force) has been assisting and augmenting The National Guard 252nd Cyberspace Operations Group in Cyber Security Operations. This National Guard Cyber Security unit has been working with the Washington’s Secretary of State Office to ensure the states voting system is functional and secure from outside intrusion of hacking groups and nation-states. A team of eight troops from the Air National Guard and State Guard have been working for weeks providing this cyber security support for the upcoming November 8th general election.

To read more about the mission, here is the article:

National Guard, Secretary of State office partnership helps ensure secure voting system

Cyber Shield 2020 tests Washington Guardsmen cyber professionalsCAMP MURRAY, WA, UNITED STATES


Story by Joseph Siemandel

Joint Force Headquarters – Washington National Guard

When voters cast their votes this November in the 2022 elections, they can feel assured their ballot is secure due to a long-standing partnership between Washington’s Secretary of State and the Washington National Guard.

“This on-going relationship since 2014 continues to provide that extra layer of protection to what is already a very secure voting system in our state,” said Col. Thomas Pries, the commander of the 252nd Cyberspace Operations Group.

Since 2014, cyber security professionals from the Washington National Guard have assisted the Secretary of State’s office to ensure that when a vote is cast in our state, it is counted correctly and accurately. In September, a team of eight members from the Washington Air National Guard and Washington State Guard spent two-weeks working with the Secretary of State’s office to coordinate cyber security support for the November 8th general election. Getting involved early provides the Guard and the Secretary’s office awareness of any issues and ensures they’re detected early.

“Every time we do this mission, we make the system even more secure,” said Pries. “It is helpful when we are all on the same sheet, all working together with the same goal, that every vote cast in our state is accurate and secure.”

Since 1993, Washington began the shift from in-person voting to mail-in ballot voting. In 2005 the state Legislature enacted a measure that said counties in the state could decide to switch exclusively to “vote-by-mail.” By 2009, 98 percent of the state had made the switch to mail in voting. Because the decision was made by the counties, all the power is held at the local county level. In 2018, elections systems were deemed “critical infrastructure” by the Department of Homeland Security and were part of a nationwide effort to upgrade security. At that time, Washington received nearly $8 million in federal funding to protect against future threats. Partnering with the Guard adds an additional layer of protection and continues an established relationship.

The partnership between the Guard has continued even following the departure of Secretary Kim Wyman, who was appointed by President Joe Biden as a Senior Election Security Lead at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

“Even with the change at the Secretary’s office, it hasn’t changed the approach. We are still in lock step and understand the objectives,” said Pries. “The work that we did with Secretary Wyman and her vision has carried over under Secretary Hobbs.”

Guard members will take the month of October to further develop their support plan prior to re-engaging with the Secretary’s office for the elections.

“The adversaries are becoming more advanced and so are we,” said Pries. “We aren’t isolated to just our Washington National Guard assets. If needed we have the whole Department of Defense, state and federal government to bounce ideas off of and discuss anything we are seeing.”

Source: Defense Visual Information Distribution System (DVIDS)

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