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Commissioners hear about election security upgrade

Security for the Washington County Board of Elections, Then and Now certificates and a $500,000 transit grant were all discussed Thursday morning at the weekly meeting of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Washington County IT Director Donnie Rader said as of June 2019, the Washington County Board of Elections received a security directive from Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The directive was to harden their systems against intrusions during elections. County boards of elections were told to install Albert alarms, do assessments and train on physical threats and cyber-security.

As of December, only 13 counties had working Albert systems, which sends out alerts if any network threats are detected.

The deadline was today to have everything completed. He said he met with LaRose on Wednesday for an inspection.

“I’m happy to say that as of today, we will be one of the counties who are in full compliance with the directive,” Rader said.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

“Then and nows,”one of the items on the weekly agenda was explained. During last week’s meeting, a question was asked about the “then and nows.” Washington County Auditor Matthew Livengood explained to those at the meeting what the process is for the certificates.

“The ‘then and nows’ are fairly common, particularly in the beginning of the year, in that we have our cut-off typically in mid-December when we quit paying bills,” Livengood said. “We will get an invoice at the beginning of the year and obviously it needs to be paid. The money had been appropriated, but the bill needs paid. A ‘then and now’ certificate is issued and allows us to pay the bill.”

He said during the rest of the year, a certificate can be issued for emergency situations, such as when an invoice comes in earlier than expected.

“In every case, the money, I have to stress, the money has been appropriated,” he explained. “We’re not trying to pull in additional money or spend additional money.”

Rae Ward, court administrator for Probate/Juvenile Court Judge Tim Williams, said she believed the ‘then and now’ discussion was directed at the judge, who questioned one of last week’s certificates. Williams had questioned why ‘then and nows’ would be used at the end of the year instead of using encumbered money.

“If you know the bill is coming in, you are supposed to encumber the money, not do it through a ‘then and now,'” Ward said. “That’s how it’s been done for the 20 years he’s been in office.”

•A transit grant for $504,000 was received from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The grant will be contracted through Washington-Morgan Community Action for 2020.

Approximately $187,000 is federal funds, $136,500 is state funds, and another $180,000 is from federal funds for upkeep and maintenance of the CABL buses.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

Dates to remember:

• Regular commission meeting, 9 a.m. Thursday, 1115 Gilman Ave.

• Courthouse closed Feb. 17 for Presidents Day.

•Monthly finance committee meeting, 10 a.m. Feb. 18, conference room A.

Source: Washington County Board of Commissioners.

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