Jennifer Briggs

Gregg County Elections Administrator Jennifer Briggs works in March at the courthouse. Briggs told commissioners this week that a federal grant will help boost cyber security for the county’s election system.

Gregg County will use grant funding to increase cyber security and strengthen the county’s election system, according to the county elections administrator.

The Gregg County Commissioners Court approved a grant-funded payment Monday of more than $28,656 to AT&T for an infrastructure security package.

Elections Administrator Jennifer Briggs said the grant comes from the Help America Vote Act, which was signed into law in 2002.

“This year, additional security grant funds were awarded to Gregg County elections in order to further safeguard and bring our elections to the highest level of security,” Briggs said.

The grant is meant to help counties better secure elections, Briggs said.

“It deals with the infrastructure and the overall processes that the election offices use,” she said.

This past year, the Gregg County Elections Office contracted with the Texas Department of Information Resources and AT&T to complete an elections security assessment through the recommendation from Homeland Security, Briggs told the commissioners court Monday.

Gregg County scored among the top tier of counties in Texas, she said.

“Generally, this security package will further assess our ranking and provide us with tools, resources and solutions to bring our (elections) security to its highest level,” Briggs said.

The focus is on looking for anything that could possibly be upgraded as well as any tools or resources that can help the elections system be the best it can be, she added.

“The (Texas Department of Information Resources) continues to employ effective and forward-thinking cyber security measures to further strengthen elections systems and safeguard our elections infrastructure against malicious cyber activity,” according to Briggs’ presentation to commissioners. “This is more important than ever.”

On June 29, commissioners approved the use of previous Help America Vote Act funds to purchase software to help with organizing poll workers for the elections office.

EasyPollWorker from EasyVote is a cloud-based software that will allow the elections office to schedule poll workers more efficiently, Briggs said.

She said it will help the office considerably.

“It can send texts or emails to remind them where they’re working,” Briggs said. “If we have openings, (it can) send out a mass text.”

In 2019, Gregg County purchased a new Verity Duo Voting System from Hart InterCivic of Austin at a cost of $1.1 million.

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.