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Willis, Peterson Introduce Legislation Focusing on Integrity of Elections

April 4, 2024
Bernard Willis News

COLUMBUS — State Representatives Bernie Willis (R-Springfield) and Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) have introduced legislation that will focus on increasing cybersecurity and updating security standards on all election systems amongst a variety of additional voting changes. 

The Ohio Votes Count Act will target increasing cyber security on all voting machines in Ohio through the creation of a Cybersecurity Risk Management Framework which will require voting system vendors to comply and will monitor software supply chain integrity, develop security practices and examine voting system developments through third-party security assessors.

“Integrity in our elections is critical to the foundation of our liberties as Americans,” said Willis. “Voters have to trust their vote matters and is being represented towards the candidate of their choosing. Technology is increasing at a fast pace and the standards voting machines are certified against are outdated. It’s time for a change that will protect everyone’s vote.”

Along with increasing the security of individual voting machines, Willis’ legislation will also bring more knowledge of cybersecurity to the board of voting system examiners by requiring an individual with cybersecurity expertise and credentialing to be an active board member. 

This board would then oversee developing cybersecurity standards, reviews and certification of all existing and new voting machines in the state.  This would also give our newly established Ohio Cyber Reserve an opportunity to be a third-party assessor for validation of Ohio’s voting systems.

The proposed legislation will also focus on validating voter registration data and increasing citizenship verification before voters get to the polls. To achieve this, the legislation will increase resources to county boards of election to help empower them to improve voter list maintenance practices for accuracy. 

“As elected officials, it is our responsibility to ensure Ohio’s elections are transparent and accurate,” said Peterson. “The proposed legislation will increase the security of our voting systems, which is needed as technology continues to advance. Doing our part to uphold free and fair elections is vital to our nation as a whole.”

“Not only do we have to worry about our cyber infrastructure, we also have to focus on preventing ineligible voters from casting their votes,” said Willis. “The only way this is done is through good old-fashioned review of data. It is tough with more than six million registered voters, so I want to give them the tools they need to ensure that every vote cast is by an eligible voter.” 

To further assist in removing ineligible voters from the registry, the legislation will require the Auditor of State to conduct a statewide audit of the voter registration database and three randomly selected counties annually.

The legislation awaits committee assignment.