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Craig Latimer to serve on national task force on election security

Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer has been named to a national task force put together by The Election Center to look at cyber threats to voting systems.   [Times file 2012]
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer has been named to a national task force put together by The Election Center to look at cyber threats to voting systems. [Times file 2012]
Published Jul. 19, 2017

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer has been named to a national task force that will look at cyber security threats to voting systems.

The task force was formed by The Election Center, a non-profit group that is comprised of election officials from across the United States.

It comes in the wake of news reports of hacking attempts during last year's presidential election that some election officials fear is lowering the public's confidence in the integrity of voting systems.

"We are looking at the threats that are out there and want to communicate best practices," Latimer said. "We do know there are bad actors out there. I would suggest it's to undermine confidence in our election system."

Hillsborough was one of at least five Florida counties that in the run up to the November general election received so-called "phishing" emails, which contain attachments that if opened could have installed viruses or other programs intended to capture information like passwords.

According to a National Security Agency intelligence report, they were part of an attempt by Russian military intelligence unit, the GRU, to disrupt the presidential election.,

The emails were quarantined by Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections' security system and were not opened, Latimer told Hillsborough County commissioners during a briefing Wednesday.

He stressed that the computer systems used to count ballots are not connected to the internet. Additional checks are conducted before and after every election to ensure the machines accurately tabulated every vote. That includes a hand-count of ballots for a randomly chosen precinct and election race.

An additional level of security comes from the fact that voting systems are run and maintained by more than 6,000 jurisdictions across the United States meaning it would require a massive coordinated effort to alter the result of a national election, Latimer said.

"We have robust security systems in place," he said.

Contact Christopher O'Donnell at codonnell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @codonnell_Times.

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