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Secretary of State CIO Boots Legacy Tech, Against the Clock

The past year has been focused on preparing for the 2018 elections, standing up secure websites and migrating voter registration to a secure disaster-recovery system — all within a few months.

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The Secretary of State's Office is looking to elevate its security stance, expanding its use of artificial intelligence and using more innovative technologies, according to CIO Rita Gass, Chief Technology Officer Cruz Nieto and new Chief Risk Officer Joe White.

The past year has been focused on preparing for the 2018 elections, replacing "obsolete hardware and end-of-life software," standing up secure websites and migrating voter registration to a secure disaster recovery system, all within a few months.

"We had to make sure that even though it's static content, that our site is https," Gass said Monday at Techwire's State of Technology forum.

The office uses a software-as-a-service and hybrid cloud approach.

Most of the projects were done in less than seven weeks, Gass said. The Secretary of State's Office, especially, has to stand things up quickly because voting deadlines do not change, she said. She also pointed out partnerships as being key to how quickly the office gets programs rolled out. 

"Our biggest challenge is time," she said. "We don't a one-year or two-year plan — we have to do it within two months."  

The office works with the federal, state and county governments to fulfill its voting responsibilities. 

The office created a paid public education campaign, full of digital tools that got information out to voters.

The office is looking for ways to expand its Eureka Chatbot use, bringing more languages and including information about the office's archives and elections.

Kayla Nick-Kearney was a staff writer for Techwire from March 2017 through January 2019.