Alabama Secretary Merrill testifies on election security as 2020 ramps up

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- As candidates gear up for 2020 campaigns, those trying to meddle in the election are also getting ready. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to figure out what can be done to prevent widespread election hacking. They’re bringing in folks from around the country to examine election security.

"It’s important for members of Congress to hear about the things that we’re actually doing each and every day to know where we need additional support and assistance,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

Merrill testified in front of the House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday that his state is on the right track. He says he appreciates federal dollars that help with his elections, but does not want micromanagement from Washington. He thinks he and his Alabama colleagues know best how to protect their elections, with things like paper ballots, two-factor authentication and other failsafe mechanisms.

"It’s always best to hear from are people who have boots on the ground. Not people sitting in ivory towers,” said Merrill.

Secretary Merrill says he’s learned a great deal since 2016, which the intelligence community says saw widespread election meddling from other countries, namely Russia. A cyber expert tells us...2020 might not be all that different...

"You certainly can’t stop what fake news they’re putting out so there are challenges like that that are hard to defend against,” said Jake Braun,
executive director at the Cyber Policy Initiative.

He says so-called “cyber hygiene” needs to improve across the country and the federal government can help with that. Braun thinks one big issue
needs resolving…coming up with greater deterrents for foreign meddling to make those bad actors scared.

"Right now...I don’t know if any of them are,” said Braun.

We are less than a year away from when the Iowa caucuses are scheduled to take place.