What Is the County of Santa Clara Doing to Boost Election Security?

In the past few years, the County of Santa Clara’s Registrar of Voters along with the office of Technology Services and Solutions and the County Privacy Office have been working together to review systems, make improvements, increase awareness and training, and raise the County’s security posture to protect our elections.

Read below for a list of key actions and information about how the County protects elections and data and click on the first line of each topic to be redirected to more information. You may also find our collection of Frequently Asked Questions about Election Security and Administration helpful. 

Key Actions the County Has or Is Taking to Protect Our Elections

  • Improving cybersecurity through focused cyber threat prevention, protection, response and recovery by joining both the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center.
  • Enhancing physical security and protection by partnering with larger state and federal governmental agencies such as Homeland Security, CISA, the FBI, and the California Office of Emergency Services.
  • Sharing ideas and best practices with similar agencies in the state and nation through larger associations and organizations
  • Upgrading and improving systems and procedures, such as investing in new voting technologies, upgrading servers and firewalls, and training staff on how to recognize threats.
  • Increasing public awareness and sharing information on how voters can help combat disinformation and misinformation.


How the County Protects Voter Registration Data

  • Follows the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) model as a guide for protecting election management systems
  • Developed a “defense in-depth” approach to security, designing multiple layers of protections and increasing staff training about data security and recognizing threats
  • Reviewed and amended how data is shared by thoroughly vetting applicants and requests
  • Restricting access to only authorized users who must have an access key or provide answers to multiple questions
  • Encrypting data using a minimum of Advanced Encryption Standards


How the County Protects Our Votes

  • Upgraded voting technology that meet new standards for improved functionality and auditability
  • Ensuring voting systems utilize paper ballots that can be voter-verified
  • Implementing new security standards for delivery and storage of voting equipment
  • Conducting thorough testing before any voting system can be used and conducting a post-election manual audit to confirm results
  • Redesign of official ballot drop boxes for improved security and protection of Vote by Mail ballots
  • Thoroughly testing all voting equipment before and after each election, to ensure proper functionality
  • Practicing “air-gapping” to physically separate two installations and all associated devices, protecting against the spread of viruses
  • Maintaining chain of custody documentation and following the, “two-person rule,” requiring a minimum of two people present with all voting equipment and voted ballots during an election
  • Verifying the name, address and signature on the envelope of each voted Vote by Mail, Provisional and Conditional voter ballot before they can be counted


Click HERE to find out more information about the County’s new certified voting system.


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