Elections Under Threat? A Global Comparative Analysis of Cybersecurity of Elections

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The panel included (from left to right): Michael Svetlik, Tammy Patrick, Tom Rogers, Dr. Chia-hung Tsai, Dr. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello and Katherine Ellena.

On November 6, 2018, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) gathered more than 130 participants for “Elections Under Threat? A Global Comparative Analysis of Cybersecurity of Elections,” a discussion about the state of cybersecurity of elections around the world and how election officials can strengthen and protect this critical infrastructure. The event was held in Washington, D.C., on the same day that the United States (U.S.) holds general elections.

The cybersecurity of elections is now a critical component of election planning. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there is greater awareness of how cyber threats can affect the administration of elections at all levels. From voter registration data to results transmission, elections are vulnerable to external threats and manipulation. Safeguarding the integrity of elections requires a high level of commitment, both political and financial, for the implementation of measures that ensure that election processes and results remain credible.

The event was moderated by Michael Svetlik, IFES’ vice president for programs. Tammy Patrick, senior advisor for the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, outlined the decentralized electoral system in the U.S. and federal, state and local efforts to bolster cybersecurity. International election management body (EMB) representatives included Tom Rogers, electoral commissioner for the Australian Electoral Commission; Dr. Chia-hung Tsai, commissioner for the Central Election Commission of Taiwan; and Dr. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, chairman of the National Electoral Institute of Mexico. Rogers, Tsai and Córdova Vianello provided an overview of their respective EMBs’ responsibilities and insights into how they are responding to cyber threats. Katherine Ellena, IFES’ legal advisor, unveiled a new Holistic Exposure and Adaptation Testing (HEAT) methodology, which aims to secure automated and digitalized electoral processes against unanticipated threats, illicit incursions, system failures or unfounded legal challenges. IFES President and CEO Anthony Banbury provided closing remarks, recognizing and thanking those in attendance, including Dr. Emad Alsaiah, chairman of the Libyan High National Elections Commission; Shrayef Bentahia, chairman of the Libyan Central Committee for Municipal Councils Elections; and Ukrainian students enrolled in IFES' semester-long civic education course "Democracy: from Theory to Practice."

To view a recording of the discussion, watch the video below.

(0:05) Welcome remarks by Michael Svetlik, Vice President of Programs, IFES
(6:49) Remarks by Tammy Patrick, Senior Advisor for the Elections Program, Democracy Fund
(18:26) Remarks by Tom Rogers, Electoral Commissioner, Australian Electoral Commission
(27:55) Remarks by Dr. Chia-hung Tsai, Commissioner, Central Election Commission of Taiwan
(38:05) Remarks by Dr. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello, Chairman, National Electoral Institute of Mexico
(52:09) Remarks by Katherine Ellena, Legal Advisor, IFES
(1:07:12) Questions from Svetlik
(1:14:55) Questions from the audience
(1:41:40) Closing remarks by Anthony Banbury, President and CEO, IFES

To view a photo gallery, please click here or the photo below.

Elections Under Threat? A Global Comparative Analysis of Cybersecurity of Elections

Dr. Lorenzo Córdova Vianello shares his perspectives on Mexico's recent elections and experiences with cybersecurity.

IFES thanks the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy for its generous support.