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Ada County creates anti-internet bunker around voting system

The paper ballot is the first line of defense in Idaho's cyber security system. (CBS 2)

In addition to the old reliable, unhackable paper ballot, the Ada County Elections Office has established an anti-internet bunker around its voter information database as well as the actual voting system.

"The tabulators we use to count all the absentee ballots, the system where we calculate all of the votes on election day, that system is completely offline," said Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane. "It never accesses the internet at anytime."

And the tabulation room, as it's called, is the most secure place in election headquarters.

We were only allowed inside escorted by top elections officials.

And seven video cameras watch everything, all the time.

"Everything to get to this room is under video," said Ada County IT officer Stephen O'Meara. "And even where we bring in all the votes from around the county. Once they get to this facility, everything is under video, even when we take and store (the ballots), the storage area is under video."

And through the Ada County website, the public can access and view this streaming video from any of their devices.

But any defense is only as good as its ability to withstand a real attack.

"Anytime we change something or do something, we actually have outside firms try to break it," said O'Meara. "And they check it for us. And we're checking randomly throughout the year as well."

Cyberspace is the new battlefield, and it's an ever changing one.

"There are people trying to tamper with things all the time," said McGrane. "We've seen that at the state level this past year where some websites were defaced. Whether it actually tampers with any actual information, it creates a sense of distrust and we need to protect against that."

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