June 12, 2024

Connecticut Ramps Up Election Security with Statewide Emergency Drill

State officials and representatives from hundreds of Connecticut municipalities practiced responding to election security threats Wednesday during an emergency preparedness drill aimed at safeguarding the electoral process.

The training was part of an annual exercise in which state officials convene at the Emergency Operations Center in Hartford to coordinate with municipalities and practice responses to various emergency situations. This year’s focus was on election security threats.

“You never know what you’re going to get hit by, but you think about it,” Governor Ned Lamont said during a Wednesday press conference. “Now with a particularly amped up election coming up, it seemed particularly timely to be talking about threats to our election system.”

Scenarios planned for during the security drill included safety threats on voting locations, misinformation campaigns designed to discourage voters from casting ballots, and efforts to disrupt voting technology, officials said.

In addition to state agencies and federal law enforcement officials, representatives of 147 different Connecticut towns participated in the event on the local level, Brenda Bergeron, deputy commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said.

Given the different threats to election security, local officials used their emergency operations plans and election contingency plans to formulate responses. The training was designed to enable officials at all levels of government to respond with practiced certainty in the event of a real emergency.

“What they were doing today is what they would do in an actual situation,” Bergeron said. “You’re going to sit there and say, ‘Alright, who do I communicate with when this particular incident happens? How do I get the message out to the public to make sure people feel safe and secure in the voting process?’”

Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas said this year’s drill involved local election administrators like registrars, town clerks, and moderators, who may have to deal with more natural threats to elections like weather events and downed phone lines.

The subject matter of this year’s drill was timely given Connecticut’s new early voting law, which took effect this year, Thomas said.

“We now have more election days so the timing of this exercise this year, I think, is of critical importance,” she said.

The governor stressed that it was important for state officials to safeguard the credibility of Connecticut’s elections.

“We have elections happening all over the world and people are throwing shadows on the integrity of the electoral process,” Lamont said. “This is one more way we’re trying to make sure that people have confidence in our elections here in Connecticut.”

Posted by Hugh McQuaid