State officials will spend more than $7 million over the next two years to upgrade and secure the decade-old system that forms the backbone of the state’s elections. They’ll use several million more in mostly federal dollars to fund additional auditing and cybersecurity measures as the state works to harden election systems in the wake of nationwide Russian interference in 2016. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement spokesman Patrick Gannon said the agency has no indication of any “successful infiltration” into North Carolina election systems during the last election. But state officials are taking seriously mounting evidence from the U.S. intelligence community and federal investigators of widespread disinformation campaigns and repeated attacks on critical election infrastructure across the country.
That increased scrutiny, says elections board general counsel Josh Lawson, means preparations for the 2018 midterms look a lot different than they did two years ago.
“Elections for decades were provincial, and now they’re international events,” Lawson said. “That is a reckoning that is probably long in coming. But it’s certainly here, and the adjustment is a substantial one.”