Amazon is reportedly making an aggressive push into the business side of state and local elections. Since the 2016 election, more than 40 states are using one or more of Amazon’s services for elections.
Reuters reports that tech giant Amazon has begun aggressively expanding its Web Services division into the world of election technology and has been quietly doing so since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. More than 40 states are now using one or more of Amazon’s election offerings according to a recent presentation given by an Amazon executive this year which was seen by Reuters.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the U.S. federal body that administers and enforces campaign finance laws also reportedly use Amazon’s election products. While Amazon does not handle voting on election days, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is running state and county election websites, storing voter registration rolls and ballot data, and helping overseas servicemembers to participate in voting.
Amazon describes its services to prospective clients telling them that they are a low-cost provider of secure election technology, a key selling point as many officials aim to avoid a repeat of the 2016 elections when allegations of poor cybersecurity were made against multiple government bodies.
Michael Jackson, leader of Public Health & U.S. Elections at AWS, told prospective government clients during a webinar presentation in February: “The fact that we have invested heavily in this area, it helps to attest to the fact that in over 40 states, the Amazon cloud is being trusted to power in some way, some aspect of elections.”
Many welcome Amazon’s push into the election market, David O’Berry, co-founder of Precog Security, said that moving to AWS is “a good option for campaigns, who do not have the resources to protect themselves.” But others have warned that Amazon could become a bigger target for hackers.
Chris Vickery, director of cyber risk research at cybersecurity startup Upguard, stated: “It makes Amazon a bigger target” for hackers, “and also increases the challenge of dealing with an insider attack.”
Amazon believes that its systems are reliable with a spokesperson telling Reuters: “Over time, states, counties, cities, and countries will leverage AWS services to ensure modernization of their elections for increased security, reliability, and analytics for an efficient and more effective use of taxpayer dollars.”
Ron Morgan, the chief deputy county clerk of Travis County in Texas which uses Amazon’s servers to run its election website stated: “We think (AWS) provides us with the best available level of security.” Morgan added: “Is it bullet proof? I don’t know. But is it a very, very hard target? Absolutely.”