PROVIDENCE, RI – Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea today announced $236,701 in grant funding for Cranston, Warwick, and West Warwick to strengthen the cybersecurity of voting systems and improve election processes. These grants are awarded as part of Rhode Island's share of $3 million from Congress under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) intended to strengthen elections security across the country.
"Election security starts at the local level," said Secretary Gorbea. "There is no finish line when it comes to cybersecurity. Threats are always evolving, so we must constantly assess our systems and processes at both the state and local levels and make improvements to mitigate risk. These grants will help these communities do just that. I would like to thank our Congressional delegation for their leadership and advocacy at the federal level, which has led to us receiving these funds to strengthen the cybersecurity of our election systems."
Under Secretary Gorbea's cybersecurity grant program, municipal election officials proactively completed a survey assessing their cybersecurity needs. Cities and towns then had the opportunity to submit grant project proposals to the Department of State based on the results of their assessment. Finally, a cybersecurity review panel examined and approved each proposal to make sure the project elements were consistent with the HAVA grant guidelines—to be used to acquire training, equipment, and/or technology that improves election administration and security on a local level.
Grants will be awarded to 18 communities throughout the state, totaling close to $545,000. The City of Warwick will receive $176,000 to upgrade cybersecurity software and hardware for elections infrastructure; the City of Cranston will receive $50,301 to upgrade cybersecurity hardware and provide training for elections officials; and the Town of West Warwick will receive $10,400 for training of elections officials and hardware for elections infrastructure.
"We are grateful for the cybersecurity grant funds designated by Secretary Gorbea," said Kerry Nardolillo, Director of Elections for the City of Warwick. "The funds will make elections more secure in Warwick and throughout the state."
"This important grant funding will serve to further strengthen cybersecurity defenses for municipal election offices in cities and towns across Rhode Island," said Nick Lima, Registrar and Director of Elections for the City of Cranston. "All levels of government face continuing, daily attacks from hostile threat actors, including nation-state adversaries like Russia that are intent on disrupting the critical work we do. In Cranston, this funding will add vital new security infrastructure and training to keep both our Canvassing Authority—and the city's network as a whole—more safe and secure against these attacks."
"Cybersecurity awareness has become an integral part of elections over the last several years," said Sarah Rapose, Town Clerk for the Town of West Warwick. "It is important that local election officials are prepared to defend our offices from cyberattacks. The funding allocated by Secretary Gorbea will ensure West Warwick town employees are trained on the latest cybersecurity best practices."