Hidalgo County’s Elections Department has always had security measures in place, but they are working on improving the system overall.

While the department has never experienced any issues with election security, they want to be safe and protect themselves from potential cyber threats.

“Our machines are not connected to the internet at all, they cannot be hacked at all because of that,” explained elections analyst, Hilda Salinas. “However, we do need to secure our buildings, secure our systems and IT infrastructure.”

This year, a $24 million federal grant was awarded to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, but the money won’t be going toward purchasing new voting machines.

Instead, it will be used for cyber security around the state with Hidalgo County getting a portion of the funds, which Salinas said will allow them to hire or contract a vendor to conduct an audit regarding security measures.

The department is working with the county’s IT, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and have memberships with Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center and Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center.

On the agenda includes installing a badge access control system and stricter security passcodes.

“What we’re trying to do is incorporate a system to where they would have to swipe their badge in order for them to come in,” explained Salinas.