Ohio counties prodded to complete election security updates

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s elections chief expressed confidence Friday that the perennial swing state will have adequate safeguards against cyberattacks in place before the 2020 presidential election, although the upgrades he has required are coming along slowly.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office said 52 of 88 counties are at least halfway done carrying out orders he issued in June requiring federal risk and vulnerability assessments, installation of secure email systems and tools known as Albert intrusion detection devices, and a host of other protections.

Speaking at a cybersecurity briefing on Friday in Columbus, LaRose urged local officials to get moving on the improvements before a Jan. 31 deadline.

He said he has made available $12 million in Help America Vote Act money to pay for the upgrades, and that every Ohio county has been in touch with the Department of Homeland Security for help.

Still, only 13 counties have their Albert systems in place and LaRose said a handful have “F” grades on the progress they’re making toward meeting the directive. He said he has options available to force compliance, including removing board of election members — but he doesn’t believe that will be necessary.