The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed Friday that the state of Maine’s election systems were not targeted as part of a string of cyberintrusion attempts during the 2016 general election.

Early this summer, DHS officials announced that 21 states’ elections systems were targeted during the election, but did not name the states. DHS did not directly notify chief election officials of their states’ status until Friday, according to a news release from the Maine Department of the Secretary of State.

“We are very confident in the security of our elections systems here in Maine, and pleased to finally have confirmation that we were not among the 21 states that were targeted in 2016,” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a statement. “I will continue to advocate for immediate notification from DHS in the event of any future attempts on our election systems, so we can respond appropriately to threats as they arise.”

Maine employs several best practices for election security, the department said. Voters use paper ballots, which are counted by tabulator machines in the larger municipalities. Those machines, as well as the computers used to create Maine ballots, are not connected to the internet, and a strict chain of custody is maintained for all election materials, in concert with pre-election testing.

The only aspect of Maine’s election system that is accessible via the internet is the Central Voter Registration database, and it is protected by user passwords, a firewall and regular monitoring by in-house cybersecurity staff, the federal department said. If the system were compromised, Maine’s same-day voter registration law would still ensure that no voter is disenfranchised at the polls.

DHS officials confirmed this week that the 21 instances of scanning and attempted breaches of state election systems are linked to Russian hackers. The majority of the efforts found by DHS were scanning, but not breaches, and the officials stressed that there was “no evidence of any impact to voting anywhere,” the news release said.

The department is working with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State, as well as other chief election officials across the nation, to improve communication protocols regarding voting system security in the future, it said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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Twitter: jcraiganderson

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