Election Cloud Technology and Voting Security

Trent Warren
Read Time: 4 minutes

The 2018 US voting season has already arrived with early voting for the midterm election now open. During such an important time of the year, there are many discussions taking place. Is your vote secure? Is your website optimized to handle increased traffic for this election season? Are you even aware of election as a service cloud technology? Cloud computing provides an avenue of security and scalability for agencies administering elections. Learn more about the power of the cloud during the election season. 

What is Election as a Service?

Election as a service is defined as the use of cloud technology to improve efficiency and security of elections in a cost-effective manner.   

One of the leading cloud providers in the election as a service is Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS enables swift deployment and effortless scaling of electoral services for customers who administer, promote, and protect the electoral process. AWS allows customers to focus on campaigns and officials to focus on running elections, rather than building and maintaining costly IT infrastructure.   

Election as a service can be used for a variety of instances from elections administrations, political campaigns, and civic organizations.  

For example, nonpartisan civic organizations play an important role in raising awareness and driving voter turnout. Typically, these organizations operate with low budgets, face security threats, and deal with irregular surges in web traffic. For the case of the League of Women Voters, AWS helped their organization do more with less without sacrificing performance, allowing them to focus on their mission of empowering women to vote. 

“The choice to move to the cloud was clear. AWS was exactly what we needed: a hosting solution that scaled seamlessly. We could create instances on demand to handle data clean-up and import. If we had to build this service on-premises, it would have cost us three or four times as much,” said Jeanette Senecal, Senior Director, League of Women Voters. 

As a result, AWS was able to power the League of Women Voters website in a secure, scalable, and cost-effective way. While election as a service can help an organization in multiple ways, a cloud broker takes things a step further with expert consultation for organizations looking to adopt cloud strategy and purchase cloud products that best fit their needs.

Optimize Website Traffic on Election Day with DoubleHorn 

As a leading cloud services brokerage, DoubleHorn has proven success at supporting agencies with cloud migration. For example, DoubleHorn helped migrate the Travis County Clerk’s Office to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“We had a website outage due to server performance because our on-premises web solution was overrun by the traffic spike,” says Scott Flom, IT division manager for the Travis County Clerk’s Office.  

Using Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud’s autoscaling capabilities, the Travis County Clerk’s Office was able to handle this increase in website traffic during the election 2016 season. 

“On election day, our website traffic was 25 times that of a typical day,” says Flom. “We were able to support that spike without problems or impact to our end users, thanks to AWS and DoubleHorn.” 

What makes DoubleHorn stand out from the other cloud service brokers? DoubleHorn holds the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) contracts in cloud assessment services, cloud broker services, cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and cloud software as a service (SaaS).

Holding a cloud services contract with DIR allows public entities to do business directly with DoubleHorn without having to negotiate terms and condition agreements and SLAs because those requirements have already been pre-negotiated with the State of Texas.

In addition to our DIR contract, DoubleHorn is cloud-agnostic and offers a variety of different public cloud offerings. DoubleHorn has contracts with six of the largest cloud providers: AWS,  Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, Google Cloud, IBM, and Rackspace. The breadth of cloud offerings gives customers a choice when selecting a cloud product to best fit their requirements. 

Our cloud migration for Travis County Clerk’s Office is just one example of what DoubleHorn can offer other agencies who are looking to optimize their website traffic during election season. 

Voting Security with Cloud Technology

Security and compliance are hot topics during election season and for good reason after the US Justice Department announced indictments against 12 members from a Russian Intelligence agency for interfering with the 2016 US presidential election.

Earlier in the year, US Congress passed a comprehensive spending bill that included “$380 million dollars in much-needed funding for improving election security in the states,” according to the Center for American Progress. Many of these states have taken advantage of this funding by hiring cybersecurity teams and by providing cybersecurity training to election officials.

On the other hand, state election officials should consider the security of the cloud. The cloud’s infrastructure is designed for security best practices and data protection is a cloud provider and cloud brokerage’s number one priority.   

For example, AWS GovCloud allows U.S. government agencies and customers to move sensitive workloads into the cloud by addressing their specific regulatory and compliance requirements.”  AWS GovCloud is subject to the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) security measures that must be met in order for election administrators to host sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information such as voter data.  

FedRAMP is defined as a “US government-wide program that delivers a standard approach to the security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services.”  

FedRAMP is recognized by the top US governing bodies including the Office of Management and Budget, the US General Services Administration and others, giving AWS GovCloud the proper accreditation 

Therefore, agencies should trust cloud’s security more so than other IT infrastructure during the election season. As a matter of fact, the cloud has a strong security record versus outdated on-premises IT infrastructure. 

For instance, an Alert Logic report analyzing “2.2 million security incidents over a multi-year period found that enterprises operating on-premises architecture experienced 50% more security incidents than ones that operated exclusively in the public cloud.”

Consequently, as of March 2018, a total of “41 states currently had voting machines that were at least a decade old,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. With midterms right around the corner, there is a much-needed upgrade in electoral security that needs to be addressed.

Conclusion

Cloud computing’s election as a service technology offers many benefits during election season. Whether it’s a county needing to expand its website’s bandwidth or a political organization looking for cost-effective cloud storage, the cloud as an election as a service provides these solutions.  

These are just a few of the many examples of how the cloud has met election demand.

In addition, the cloud provides much-improved security than outdated on-premises IT infrastructure. While AWS GovCloud is required to meet FedRAMP compliance measures, an organization should consider their migration to the cloud to be safe. 

Cloud service brokerages such as DoubleHorn offer cloud consolations, billing, and support for any organization looking to migrate to the cloud. Contact us to learn how you can get started with your cloud migration with DoubleHorn. 

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