Are you a developer or coder with an idea on how to make elections more secure from cyber-intrusion? If you’d like a chance to make a pitch before a panel of judges, your chance comes next week with CapitolSec 2020, a competition for innovators with solutions on how to harden cyberdefenses against election meddling.

“If you are a cybersecurity professional or a company with a solution, (or) a startup that is building an AI solution that will make our election systems more secure, then get in front of our judges,” says the announcement on the organization website. “They will pick the best idea and make you a winner of one [of] the most important things in defending our democracy.”

The event begins with an hourlong registration period starting at 5 p.m. May 23, followed by presentations from 6 to 9 p.m., and concluding with an hourlong social mixer. The event will be at McClellan Business Park, 3140 Peacekeeper Way, Suite 101, McClellan.  

Entries will be in one of three categories:

  • Best new software solution
  • Best software solution to enhance the existing electoral system
  • Overall best idea for the most improved and secure election system (can be software, process or both)

The cost to enter is $500, and entries are accepted until Monday.

Those chosen to present at the four-hour event may do a product demonstration, a software demo or something more interactive. The judges will then decide which three products best fit the criteria.

Cybersecurity has been one of the hottest IT topics in recent years, with special attention being paid to election security. The California Secretary of State's Office has a Web page devoted to the topic, and the state Little Hoover Commission, a good-government watchdog, addressed the topic in an open letter to the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The judges include:

  • Louis Stewart, chief innovation officer for the city of Sacramento
  • Wendy Curl, vice president of the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the Information Security Systems Association 
  • Malcolm Harkins, chief of Security and Trust for Cylance
  • Mari Heiser, distinguished engineer and CTO/NA Cloud for IBM Security
  • Michael Reese, chief information security officer for DSA Technologies
  • Matthew Rosenquist, cybersecurity strategist for Intel and one of Linkedin’s Top 10 Tech Voices 2018
  • Mark Haney, radio host and principal in HaneyBiz of Rocklin

The co-founders of CapitolSec 2020 are Adam R. Benson, vice president and director of Vrge; and Carmen Marsh, CEO of Inteligenca, a Roseville consultancy. The general director of CapitolSec 2020 is Marcus Haney, director of strategic partnerships for Haney Business Ventures.