King County, the largest county in the state of Washington, was implementing a new elections system. A contentious election the previous year had many manual recounts resulting in an extremely close election for governor. King County has chosen to implement a new electronic counting and tabulation system. However, there was widespread concern among voters regarding the security of this new system.
King County engaged Anitian to conduct the first-ever Real-World Election Security Assessment. Up until that time, all of the security assessments of election systems had been done in laboratory-type settings. The election systems were dismantled and analyzed in conditions that did not represent how they would be deployed in an actual elections environment. King County wanted a security test of the voting systems in a real elections environment.
Anitian developed a testing regimen that was completely unique, based on a scientific analysis of the elections systems and their environment. We collaborated with the equipment vendor to fairly and honestly evaluate the security without sensationalism, hype, or external influence. After multiple failed tests, Anitian worked with King County and the equipment vendor develops improvements and fixes to the system.
The end result was King County deployed a reliable elections system that effectively compensated for some technical weaknesses of the tabulation systems with sound procedures and processes. Since this effort was public, Anitian’s final report is publicly available.
More importantly, all parties involved were completely satisfied with Anitian’s efforts. King County’s was deeply concerned about public perception of the elections system. The project had multiple, competing interests. Anitian was able to definitively demonstrate that the King County Elections Department was performing elections in a secure and responsible manner thus alleviating public worries.
The Bottom Line
King County now has secure elections.