MANSFIELD -- The Richland County Board of Elections announced Wednesday the successful completion of security upgrades required by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Last June, LaRose issued Directive 2019-08, a comprehensive, multi-faceted security strategy for local boards that provides the redundancy required of a strong election system infrastructure.

Counties had until Jan. 31, 2020, to complete the requirements. The effort has made Ohio the national leader in election security, according to LaRose.

The directive included a checklist of 34 separate requirements that had to be met in order to be considered compliant. The specifics of the checklist essentially serve as Ohio’s detailed defense plan against adversaries who seek to disrupt our elections.

The requirements fall under five separate sectors:

-- Physical security assessments and improvements

-- Background checks of personnel

-- Secure website and e-mail domains

-- Cyber-attack detection, system hardening and network defense

-- Security Training

“The voters in Richland County should be proud of their local Board of Elections for successfully embracing such a big challenge,” LaRose said.

“By elevating their defensive posture, they’ve helped make Ohio a national model for election security.”

The staff at the Richland County IT Department played an integral role in implementing the required cybersecurity mandates, and worked tirelessly to assist the board in meeting the deadline, local elections officials said.

In January of 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Election Infrastructure as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

By its nature, every election system is vulnerable to ever changing security environments. By implementing this elevated security posture that is a model for the nation, Ohio will be in the best possible standing to deter any threats to our election system, both foreign and domestic, according to LaRose.

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