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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: January 19, 2021 01:03 PM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Enacting the Auditor General’s Recommendations regarding the SURE System
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to enact several of the recommendations from the Auditor General’s 2019 Performance Audit Report on the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE) System, which is what the Department of State uses to keep a record of all voters in the state.

When the audit was released, there were more than 50,000 cases of potentially inaccurate voter records. The Auditor General stated, “The Department of State must work harder to verify that registration records are accurate and up to date” and that “my audit team found too many instances of potentially bad data and sloppy recordkeeping.” He also mentioned that the Department of State does not adequately document that it regularly monitors each county’s work to verify data is entered correctly or that the system has enough tools to help prevent data entry errors.

The winner of the 2016 presidential election won by only 44,000 votes, which according to the Auditor General, “means even less than 1 percent is still a big number in our state.” We must do everything in our power to ensure that the election system that we all rely on, is accurate, safe, and functioning the way it was intended to.

The audit included 50 recommendations to strengthen the Department of State’s (DOS) policies and management controls. This legislation would implement one of those key recommendations.
Finding number three of the report says that the Department of State must implement leading information technology security practices and information technology general controls to protect the SURE system and ensure reliability of voter registration records.

The report goes on to state that DOS refused to provide access to significant key documents related to the security, information technology controls, and operation of the SURE systems. Therefore, this legislation will create an oversight body for the system, develop a governance structure that will provide clear lines of authority in the operation, maintenance, and security of the SURE system; continue with plans to replace the SURE system; implement additional security guidelines; monitor vendors through a documented process; update the SURE Equipment Use Policy; and ensure that third parties cannot have access to the system for any reason through enhanced penalties.

Based on the lack of information from DOS and the valid recommendations from the Auditor General, it is imperative that the SURE system has significant oversight and is updated or changed based on these findings.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important legislation.