North Dakota’s election system will be included in a large-scale probe of the state’s information technology, a move the state auditor says is not an election audit of 2020 results. State Auditor Josh Gallion’s office is in contract negotiations for the statewide IT security assessment that will look at cybersecurity vulnerability including software, hardware and physical infrastructure. Gallion expects the work to begin around January and to conclude by October 2022. Contractors during the last assessment excluded the election system due to the November 2020 general election occurring at the time, he said. The probe is covered by a $450,000 budget item approved by the 2021 Legislature. Gallion said the IT assessments go back 10-12 years. He did acknowledge a “dialogue going on out there” from “certain groups” in favor of auditing the 2020 presidential election results in the wake of Republican Donald Trump’s reelection loss, such as in Arizona, which Democrat Joe Biden narrowly won. Trump took North Dakota with 65% of the vote. The second-term Republican auditor said “this will not do that. We will not be auditing those results.”
The North Dakota State Auditor’s office this week launched an extensive review of many of the state’s IT assets, including the machines and electronic systems it uses to conduct elections. The process, State Auditor Joshua Gallion said in a press release, is designed to help the state government be “proactive in its defense against cyber threats.” The audit is part of IT assessments that North Dakota conducts every two years, costing about $450,000. Along with the election infrastructure, auditors will also look over the North Dakota Information Technology Department, particularly any systems related to the state’s unemployment insurance program and the 11-campus North Dakota University System. The audit will be the first extensive review of voting equipment North Dakota acquired in 2019. That year, Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s office purchased more than 900 new devices, including optical ballot scanners, devices for helping voters with disabilities to mark paper ballots and machines for counting absentee and mail ballots, though that inventory was not subject to the last biennial audit.
Full Article: North Dakota IT audit to include review of election tech