Tennessee prepares for the worst to ensure the best at election time


Tennesseans will soon begin early voting at the polls to choose the next governor and many local leaders.

The state’s coordinator of elections is confident everything will go smoothly but is still cautious about voter security.

“The reason that I have confidence is we are preparing, that does not mean there is no risk out there,” say Mark Goins, who has held the state’s top election job since 2011.

One of the first things Goins points out is that voting machines in Tennessee are not connected to the internet.

“On election night, those machines that are not connected to the internet are going to produce a tally tape and that tally tape is the official record of what we will use to conduct the election and announce the results,” said Goins.

Online voter registration and the unofficial results on election night are on the internet. Goins says that can create risk, but results are not considered official until certification about 2-3 weeks after an election.

He says preparation, like the massive “tabletop” exercise they held in early June, helps to minimize risks.

“We had 400 election officials in a room and basically we had them plan on how to prevent cyber attacks was phase one,” said Goins “Phase two, what would happen if your planning failed and we do have some kind of attack?”

Goins says that exercise was designed to simulate the worst election ever with anything that could go wrong happening. 

He hopes that by preparing for the worst this election cycle will be among the best.

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