TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — With heightened anxiety over election security in the midst of the 2020 presidential election, Towson University is training local election judges to increase their vigilance.

Towson assistant professor of business analytics and tech management Natalie Scala is expanding a training program that identifies and mitigates potential security threats during the voting process. The goal is to protect Maryland’s elections.

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“We want to make sure that the votes that are cast, especially in Maryland, are counted the way they are cast,” Scala said.

The program is being implemented in Anne Arundel County during an election season unlike any other.

“It’s almost like we’re conducting two different elections at the same time this election year,” said David Garreis with the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.

Poll workers will be trained on signs of possible cyber, human and physical threats that could occur as well as how to address them, Scala said.

The work, she said, fills in the gaps to provide cybersecurity-specific training for each of the five general stations at a Maryland polling place.

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In 2017, the university partnered with Harford County to look at some of the things that could go wrong during an election process.

“This was kind of motivated by the fact that there was not a cybersecurity training as part of poll worker training,” Scala said.

That has now changed.

This year, Garreis said the board has implemented a number of new procedures to ensure transparency and the election’s integrity.

“Security this year was kind of in the forefront of everything,” he said.

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Program leaders hope to be able to expand the training as much as possible for the 2022 midterm and gubernatorial elections in Maryland.