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‘We’re picking up the pace’ on election security following indictment of Russian agents, Galvin says

Secretary of State William F. Galvin Keith Bedford/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

Massachusetts’ voter logs were not hacked by Russian agents during the 2016 presidential election, though concerns over security are growing in advance of the 2018 midterms, Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said Saturday.

The news comes as the National Association of Secretaries of State 2018 Summer Conference is being held in Philadelphia this weekend, just one day after the indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers who allegedly interfered with the 2016 election.

Galvin did not travel to Philadelphia for the annual meeting, though he said Michelle Tassinari, Massachusetts’ elections director, served as his proxy. They spoke twice Saturday, he said.


Tassinari attended a “very technical” lunch meeting about election security with Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen on Saturday, Galvin said.

The 12 Russian military intelligence officers were indicted Friday for allegedly hacking into the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The indictment states that the Russians also tried to hack into the board of elections in several states and successfully penetrated one, though Russia denied any role in hacking the election.

The indictments “proved what we already knew,” Galvin said when reached by phone Saturday evening.

“We’re all concerned, of course, but we feel we’re in a better position than most,” he said. “We only use paper ballots, and our system is not on the internet.”

Galvin said there is general concern about attempts to influence the 2018 and 2020 elections, and Massachusetts is “picking up the pace” in terms of security.

“The fragility of the [electoral] system is concerning,” he said, “but as I said, we’re going to and have done what we can to make our system less vulnerable.”

In the last two months, Massachusetts applied for a $7.9 million federal grant for election security, Galvin said.

Galvin said the biggest news out of the Philadelphia meetings was that a Russian investor had bought a software vendor used in Maryland’s elections, unbeknownst to the state.


In Massachusetts elections, it’s required for any vendor to notify the state if their corporate structure changes, Galvin said.

J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.