AUGUSTA — The Maine Secretary of State’s Office is seeking $3.1 million in federal funds to beef up cybersecurity of the state voter registration system.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap sent a letter to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission last week requesting Maine’s share of a $380 million pool of federal funds available to states. Under the federal law, states can use the money to replace electronic voting machines with equipment that uses paper ballots, to upgrade election-related computer systems for better cybersecurity protection, and to facilitate cybersecurity training for state and local election officials.

In an interview Tuesday, Dunlap said Maine is better-positioned than most states because it opted years ago to stick with paper ballots, which are better for recounts and are not susceptible to electronic hacking. Also, Maine uses ballot-counting machines that are not connected to the internet, and it plans to offer more training to municipal election clerks.

But Dunlap said part of the funds likely will be used to strengthen the existing firewall and password protection system around the state’s electronic central voter-registration system. The $3.1 million in federal funds – which would be supplemented by $156,549 in state funds – also could be used to purchase additional ballot tabulation machines for some towns that still count ballots by hand on Election Day.

The Democratic secretary of state has said there is no evidence that Maine was among the states targeted by alleged Russian hackers during the 2016 election, but that cyberattacks are always a possibility.

“This is not to fix anything, but to help continue to make improvements,” Dunlap said.


In the letter to federal officials, Dunlap’s office also asked for additional time to draft its plan to spend such funds because of delays caused by the rollout of ranked-choice voting in Maine last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:

Twitter: KevinMillerPPH

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