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Mississippi slated to receive some election security money

May 22, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi can expect to receive nearly $4.5 million from the federal government in the next few months to improve election security, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann applied for a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which has about $90 million available to divide among states for election security measures. Spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith said Tuesday that Mississippi should receive its money before the general election this November.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi issued a statement earlier Tuesday saying he thought Republican Hosemann had not applied for an election security grant.

“Although the funding provided through this initial grant program may not pay for all Mississippi plans to do to secure its elections, it will certainly help,” said Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Thompson also said Mississippi election officials could benefit from cybersecurity training.

Smith said Hosemann’s office “long ago addressed the need for increased cybersecurity protection.”

Mississippi is among the states where most counties use electronic voting machines that don’t leave a paper trail. Cybersecurity experts say lack of paper makes it difficult to check election results for signs of manipulation.

About 20 percent of registered voters in the U.S. use machines that produce no paper record.

A nonprofit group called Verified Voting shows that five Mississippi counties use paper ballots. They are DeSoto, Harrison, Hinds, Lee and Yalobusha. Four use electronic voting machines with a paper trail. They are Clay, Holmes, Humphreys and Walthall. The other 73 counties use electronic machines without a paper trail.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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