The city’s Board of Elections was never breached by a cyberattack — but its leader says the agency needs $1.3 million to keep the system safe.
“All the information I’ve received leading up to Election Day indicated that we here in New York were not at risk, but what was at risk was other election systems,” BOE Executive Director Paul Ryan told the City Council’s Government Operations Committee.
“For instance, we communicate on Facebook and on Twitter and also have a website, and the concern is that those things can be cloned and push out information that is not accurate.”
The BOE is seeking $160.3 million from the city for the next fiscal year — a nearly $30 million increase from its current budget and $61.7 million more than a severely trimmed $98.6 million Fiscal 2018 BOE budget Mayor de Blasio has proposed.
Ryan said most of the additional funding is needed to increase poll workers’ pay, but another $1.3 million would be used to satisfy the recommendations of outside consultants by hiring 16 new staffers to implement and maintain an upgraded cybersecurity system.
His request comes after US intelligence and law enforcement agencies released a January report in the final days of the Obama administration that found the Russian government employed cyberattacks to undermine Hillary Clinton and boost Donald Trump.
Considering the request for additional funding, Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), the committee chair, asked Ryan why he isn’t taking up de Blasio on an offer for an extra $20 million provided the agency agrees to a series of reforms, including establishing a blue-ribbon panel to identify failures.
Ryan cited “philosophical” differences with the administration for not taking the money.
During the meeting, Ryan also told the committee that Republican Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the BOE’s chief clerk in Brooklyn, and her deputy, Democrat Betty Ann Canizio-Aqil remain suspended without pay amid an internal probe into a mysterious purge of more than 120,000 voters during last April’s presidential primaries from the predominantly Democratic borough rolls.