1- In 2002, the U.S. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to help states improve election systems and practices.
2- The implementation of HAVA helped improve the voting experience for all Americans over the last two decades.
3- The USA 2016 election, 2018 midterm elections and 2020 presidential election faced confirmed hacking attempts and breaches.
4- Election officials faces some challenges as cyber threat, aging infrastructure and lastly coronavirus pandemic.
5- Congress appropriated $400 million as part of the CARES Act for coronavirus-related election expenses.
6- AWS has taken on the technology side and given the customer the opportunity to carry out their basic tasks.
The AWS Global Infrastructure helps state and local government to deliver these services in a secure, reliable, and highly scalable manner.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions from AWS can help elections administrators deliver a great digital experience for constituents and voters during elections. Specifically, solutions built with services such as Alexa, Amazon Lex, and Amazon Connect can be designed to provide intuitive interfaces and easily accessible election information to voters.
1- Alexa is Amazon’s cloud-based voice service. It is available on hundreds of millions of devices from Amazon and third party device manufacturers.
2- Its a powerful tool for improving voter engagement and accessibility.
3- Elections officials can also build custom Alexa skills to deliver specific information to their constituents.
Amazon Lex can improve voter accessibility by providing natural-language understanding (NLU) through multiple channels, including web, mobile, SMS, social media, and contact center.
1- Amazon Connect is an easy-to-use Omni-channel cloud contact center that helps companies provide superior customer service at a lower cost.
2- Amazon Connect is AI-enabled by default.
3- Amazon Connect integrated with Amazon Lex immediately to automate interactions and improve customer service.
4- Amazon Connect allows state and local election officials to be responsive to changing constituent demands, even on Election Day.
Any effort to improve voter education and accessibility must have a way to define and measure the results. We can obtain these measurements from:
1- Amazon Connect provides a number of basic metrics that measure items such as the total call volume, average call duration, and amount of time a contact spends in each possible state.
2- With Contact Lens for Amazon Connect, supervisors can conduct fast, full-text search on call and chat transcripts to quickly troubleshoot voter issues.
1- You can turn your call center contact flows into natural conversations that provide personalized experiences for your callers and an Amazon Lex chatbot can be attached to your contact flow to recognize the intent of your caller.
2- You can track metrics for your bot on the Monitoring dashboard in the Amazon Lex Console.
Amazon Pinpoint enables you to deliver voter-centric engagement experiences allowing you send messages through multiple channels, such as SMS or voice, with confidence.
1- Amazon Comprehend is a natural language processing (NLP) service that uses machine learning to find insights and relationships in text.
2- Amazon Comprehend lets you integrate Amazon Pinpoint with other AWS services to create a solution that meets your unique needs. It can learn the sentiment hidden inside language.
1- AWS Lake Formation is a service that makes it easy to set up such a data lake.
2- With Lake Formation, you can move, store, catalog, and clean your data faster, Point Lake Formation at your data sources, and Lake Formation crawls those sources and moves the data into your new Amazon S3 data lake.
3- Lake Formation has built-in machine learning to deduplicate and find matching records to increase data quality.
4- Amazon QuickSight lets you easily create and publish interactive dashboards.
1- Amazon Translate helps election administrators meet their mission of delivering bilingual election materials.
2- With Amazon Translate, elections organizations can localize content such as websites and applications for diverse users, easily translate large volumes of text for analysis, and efficiently enable cross-lingual communication between users.
AWS provides an array of security and privacy services that allow customers to automate strict governance of their systems and data, monitor for configuration changes and threats, and automate response actions.
1- Introduced in 2014, the CSF has gained international recognition and has helped AWS customers, especially those who operate critical infrastructure.
2- The CSF is composed of three parts: The Core, Tiers, and Profiles, these three elements enable organizations to prioritize and address cybersecurity risks consistent with their business and mission needs.
1- The protection of personal data (e.g., names, addresses, party affiliations, signatures) collected and used in the course of your election related activities is another critical aspect to consider for your cybersecurity program.
2- NIST’s Privacy Framework: A Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management (version 1.0) (Privacy Framework) helps organizations plan and manage their privacy risks and is meant to be used in conjunction with the CSF.
1- Security and Compliance is a shared responsibility between AWS and the customer, AWS is responsible for protecting the infrastructure that runs all AWS Cloud services, the customer is responsible for focusing more precisely on protecting their assets and data in the cloud.
2- AWS services can help customers perform their responsibilities, such as AWS Key Management Service (KMS), or use KMS-managed keys to auto-generation, rotation, and destruction.
There are a few AWS services that you can use to perform activity that conducting security risk assessments:
- AWS Trusted Advisor
- Amazon Inspector
- Amazon Macie
- Security and resiliency-focused Well-Architected Review
- AWS Infrastructure Event Management
Protecting your elections infrastructure from unauthorized access is paramount. There are a few examples that would be beneficial to highlight here, leveraging the shared responsibility model and AWS services.
- Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Authentication
- Physical Security
- Data Security
- Perimeter Security
- AWS Shield
- AWS Shield Advanced
- AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF)
- AWS Network Firewall
- Amazon VPC
- Access Control Lists (ACLs)
- Security Groups
The detect function is the ability to discover a cybersecurity event, such as anomalies and events, through security continuous monitoring. Event data is collected and analyzed from multiple sources, and vulnerability scans are performed by using:
- Amazon GuardDuty
- AWS CloudTrail
- Amazon CloudWatch
- AWS Trusted Advisor
- AWS Config
- AWS Security Hub
- Amazon Detective
Outages and attacks happen fast, and the time between detecting a suspicious activity or event and responding to it is critical. In the Respond function, there are a few CSF subcategories where AWS can elevate an elections technology solution; some of these AWS services include the following.
1- Every delay in recovering from an event and restoring the system functionality equals voters not registered, ballots not delivered, or votes not cast and can risk the entire democratic process.
2- AWS brings the ability to build resilient architectures that are self-healing and that shift risk mitigation to the front of an event.
3- The foundation for this is the AWS global infrastructure which contain:
- Availability Zone
1- Elections administrators, campaigns, and civic engagement organizations face unique challenges while promoting fair and open elections for an increasingly dynamic electorate.
2- Elections organizations can modernize and optimize voter education, accessibility and elections management with artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) solutions, including omni-channel Alexa skills, question and answer chatbot, text messaging, and cloud call centers, with the support of AWS and its partners.
3- Several technology providers and government officials operated elections workloads in AWS during the U.S. Presidential and state elections in November 2020, which was proven to be the most secure elections in U.S. history.
The Original AWS White Paper: Digital Transformation and IT Modernization for Elections in AWS.