Statewide funds available to help Washington counties strengthen election security

OLYMPIA — For a second year, the Office of the Secretary of State will provide each county’s elections officials with up to $80,000 to improve local election security.

More than $3 million is available statewide through the Information Security Funds program, created by the Office of the Secretary of State to help Washington counties strengthen their election security efforts. Counties can use the funding to purchase or upgrade their security software and hardware, hire IT security personnel, make structural improvements, and more.

“Election security and protecting our election systems from cyber threats remain my office’s top priority,” said Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. “A significant amount of work to secure our elections, however, resides at the county level. This additional funding will go a long way in helping counties enhance their election security efforts, especially as cyber threats continue to escalate in severity and frequency.”

Secretary Hobbs announced this new program in November 2022. In its first year, 25 counties applied for the funds to support local projects, and the Office of the Secretary of State has paid more than $1.57 million to date.

The funding stems from legislative approval of the Office of the Secretary of State’s proposal to help counties protect election systems from cyber threats and other security risks. The program provides flexibility to address multiple critical issues at a time of inconsistent federal support for local election protection.

Counties that wish to apply must have an installed and operational Albert sensor that is monitoring the network for cyber threats and attacks. The deadline for counties to apply is June 14, 2024.

“Every day, election officials and workers across Washington are committed to providing access to free and fair elections that are secure and accurate,” Hobbs said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work closely with our counties to strengthen the reliability and integrity of our elections for all Washingtonians. We know there is a lot we can do together to better protect our elections from cyber threats and other bad actors.”

Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.