As government considers options for November election, daily challenges mount

From wedding ceremonies to voting, government offices are increasingly moving their services online or at least considering alternatives as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts normal operations.

StateScoop and EdScoop associate publisher Jake Williams joined FedScoop’s Billy Mitchell and CyberScoop’s Greg Otto Friday to discuss the week’s top stories in Scoop News Group’s weekly video wrap-up. 

A report published this week by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and other groups found that the federal assistance given to states as part of March’s pandemic relief package would not cover even a fraction of the funds needed to host vote-by-mail elections during a pandemic.

But in the video, Otto says he doesn’t think vote-by-mail or online voting are feasible alternatives to in-person voting on such short notice.

“There are a lot of cybersecurity advocates who say it is safer to do it by mail,” Otto says. “The internet is inherently insecure right now and it’s not able to support the safety and security that’s needed for an election. But security’s obviously only one aspect of this. From an operational standpoint, there are still hurdles for vote-by-mail.”

Beyond secretary of states’ offices, state and local IT offices attempt to stay operational, fending off cyberattacks and informing the public of the latest news regarding COVID-19 and where to find essential supplies.

Governments are also ensuring that milestones like weddings continue to be accessible. California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday temporarily authorized marriage certificates and ceremonies to be authenticated via video conferencing.