NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Concerns over a computer virus have forced the state to disconnect Newport election authorities from the central voter registration system, according to a state official.
Johnathan Berard, spokesperson for the R.I. Secretary of State, said the state Division of Information Technology made the move because it was following state election cybersecurity protocols.
“The state election system is secure,” Berard said.
Rhode Island’s three-day candidate declaration period began Monday and runs through Wednesday. Tracy Nelson, canvassing board clerk for Newport, said the disconnection means she will need to go to the R.I. Secretary of State’s office in person to enter the candidates’ names on Thursday morning.
Right now, Nelson said, she’s keeping track of the candidates in an Excel spreadsheet.
As a result, Newport candidates who have submitted paperwork to run for office aren’t listed online on the state’s voter information website.
Thomas Shevlin, spokesperson for Newport’s city manager, said the virus was received in an email June 9 but was detected and isolated without incident. As a precaution, Shevlin said the city took city email and other services offline.
Shevlin said city email, archives and other services are back online following the June 9 incident and said that most other city website services are “pretty much up and running.”
The R.I. General Assembly passed a law in June codifying cybersecurity protocols and establishing a cybersecurity review board. The law also requires a cybersecurity assessment of the state’s elections and facilities.