From Press Report
The Statewide Elections Management System, the database housing Mississippi’s voter registration information, has not been breached by hackers. Still, the Secretary of State’s Office is remaining vigilant.
Security measures protecting SEMS from unauthorized intrusion include:
- Daily monitoring of the database;
- Geographic exclusion of foreign IP addresses;
- Maintaining a mirrored site in another location;
- Maintaining back-up records housed with a third-party vendor;
- Securing the database behind two firewalls and an Intrusion Prevention System;
- Encrypting all virtual actions between an end user’s personal computer and SEMS; and
- Contracting with a third-party vendor to test vulnerability.
“No system is ever completely safe, but Mississippi voters can rest assured we have taken every possible precaution in advance of November 8 Election Day,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said.
Circuit clerks and election commissioners with access to SEMS have also been encouraged to take precautions, such as refraining from sharing their logon information with any other person.
Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office is in communication with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has commended the agency for its diligence in protecting SEMS information. The security measures previously listed are redundant, and in some cases above and beyond, the measures DHS offered to states nationwide to secure their databases.
Hosemann stressed SEMS is distinguishable from the approximately 7,000 voting machines used in more than 1,800 precincts across the state. Mississippi’s voting machines are not connected to the internet, and are therefore “essentially calculators,” Hosemann said.
“The only way to steal Mississippians’ votes is by physically accessing each of the machines,” Hosemann said. “With the way polling places are organized and staffed, and the way our machines tabulate votes, it is implausible that any individual or group could ever change the outcome of an election.”
Mississippi’s elections are “free and fair,” Secretary Hosemann added.
“We have a sound voter ID law in this state, trained observers and competent local election commissioners who are prepared for any scenario,” he said. “As chief elections officer, I can assure the voters in Mississippi the results certified when the Nov. 8 general election concludes will reflect the will of the voters in this state.”
State law provides only local election commissioners, who run Mississippi elections, and designated poll workers are permitted to remain in precincts on Election Day. Federal and state observers are also permitted to remain in precincts, along with credentialed poll watchers present on behalf of the political parties and candidates. Loitering is not permitted within 30 feet and campaigning is prohibited within 150 feet of a polling place.
For more information about state election laws, visit www.sos.ms.gov or call the Elections Division at 601-576-2550.