'Scanning activity' hits state servers on Election Day, does not affect election state says

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JUNEAU and ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Foreign-based “scanning activity” took place on State of Alaska data on Election Day, the state’s Chief Information Security Officer said Tuesday evening after the polls closed. Some voting precincts saw minor issues not related to cybersecurity of elections.

Shannon Lawson, the information security officer, said the scan did not affect the election and it is not known if the scan was meant to disrupt the election or if it was even intentionally timed for today. The state did not specify if the scan was even related to election or voter data.

The Department of Homeland Security says scanning activity is not unusual and has been happening for a few months.

The State of Alaska would not tell Channel 2 which country the scan originated from.

Across the state, a few problems at precincts cropped up, but the Division of Elections says most were dealt with on the spot.

In Anchorage, an election worker forgot the ballots at home, delaying the availability of paper ballots at Romig Middle School for at least a half hour. Election workers having the ballots at home is part of the proper security protocol.

A Division of Elections spokesperson says in Region II, the precinct chairperson picks up election materials from the elections office, and the ballots are secured in boxes and the chairperson is trained to keep the election materials secure until election day, which includes not leaving them unattended overnight at the polling place.

In St. George, phones went down at the election precinct, so poll workers there have been communicating with officials via Facebook.

In Kivalina, the power went out, but the polling location was not affected, officials said.

In the Mat-Su Valley, Channel 2 viewer Mark Wolff reported concern over "voter coaching," after voting at a polling place in the area. Wolff says he was in a booth filling out his ballot when he heard a poll worker remind an individual that Gov. Walker was on the ballot but no longer running, and to make sure not to vote for him.

Wolff says he was taken aback by the action he says compromises the democratic process.

"And then go inside the place to vote, and presented with someone who is supposed to remain neutral, obviously, blatantly, reminding the opposing party that they should vote a certain way," Wolff said. "I feel like my vote is negated, that they are cheating the system, and they are going against the democratic process."

Channel 2 has asked the Division of Elections to verify the protocol for determining if an election worker did give improper voting information. The Division said election workers were directed that they may only tell voters, if asked, that the candidate withdrawal deadline was September 4, and no candidate for governor or lieutenant governor withdrew by the deadline.

The full statement given to election workers, according to an email from Division of Elections spokesperson Samantha Miller, is:
The candidate withdrawal deadline for the 2018 general election ballot was Tuesday, September 4, 2018. No candidate for governor or lieutenant governor withdrew by the deadline and all candidate names are on the final ballot. A vote for any candidate for governor or lieutenant governor appearing on the 2018 general election ballot will be counted as a vote for that candidate.

The Division did not respond Tuesday night to questions of how it would determine if improper guidance was given to voters. This story will be updated once we receive that information.

Channel 2's Derek Minemyer contributed to this report.



 
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