Anne Arundel County, a TU partner, recognized by federal government for election work

By Cody Boteler on March 12, 2021

Partnership between county and TU bolstered election security

Scala voting
Towson University's Natalie Scala, an expert in election security, casts her ballot at an on-campus dropoff location in 2020. (Photo by Alex Wright).

The U.S. Election Assistance Committee (EAC) named Maryland’s Anne Arundel County, which partnered with Towson University faculty and students to improve election security, winners in the 2020 Clearinghouse Awards, a national competition for best practices in election administration.

Faculty members Natalie Scala, an associate professor in the Department of Business Analytics & Technology Management, and Joshua Dehlinger, a professor in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences, developed training modules for local elections boards to bolster security.

Anne Arundel County used those modules and won in the category of Outstanding Innovation in Election Cybersecurity & Technology.

“We have worked with and supported 10 diverse undergraduate and graduate students from five departments to do significant portions of this research,” Dehlinger says. “They are the real stars of this work and deserve recognition.”

Scala, who will also receive a 2021 Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service, says the team hopes to continue working with Anne Arundel and other Maryland counties to empower poll workers to identify and mitigate potential threats.

“It is humbling but also exciting to see the county be honored for their work and the overall partnership,” she says.

In its nomination for the award, Anne Arundel County officials say the county wants to extend its partnership with Towson University by continuing the training and expanding it to cover more topics.

“As an academic, our research doesn’t often escape the pages of a journal or conference. It is incredibly rewarding to see that the work can make a positive impact on the community,” Dehlinger says. “TU provides the kind of collaborative, cross-disciplinary research environment to nurture and support exactly these kinds of projects.”

The EAC was established in 2002 by an act of Congress. It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring secure, accurate and accessible elections.

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