SPECIALIZED COURSE ON ICT, CYBER THREATS, AND ELECTION ADMINISTRATION
Washington D.C. – U.S.A. February 24 – 28, 2020
The accelerating development and increasing use of ICTs applications available for electoral purposes have dramatically changed the way elections are conducted in many countries. This process is likely to continue and affect more and more emerging democracies, regardless of their level of preparedness to introduce such applications, and despite the fact that the cost implications can be enormous. ICTs can help to speed up and streamline several procedures in the electoral cycle, such as voter registration, casting a vote, processing of results and many other processes. However, technologies can also create complex challenges to election operations.
The biggest challenge is how to ensure a sustainable, appropriate, cost-effective and transparent use of technology, particularly in post-conflict elections, and in fragile and emerging democracies. The exponential growth of smartphones, laptops and other devices and the rise in the use of social media all pose specific challenges to election officials. The cyber interference in the presidential elections in the United States, France, and other nations raises disturbing questions about the need and ability of democratic countries to protect their election processes. Cyber threats to the election process in democratic countries may be categorized as threats that aim to disrupt the process through technological tools designed to corrupt information systems and the polling and voting systems, and as material threats to democratic institutions by sullying their good name and by undermining the public’s faith in them.
While these threats and challenges may be well known, this course is tailored to identify, categorize, analyze, and develop appropriate and contextual mechanisms and tools election practitioners can follow to prevent, mitigate, report, and administer ICT and cyber-related threats across the electoral cycle. This Course, while identifying the rising use of ICT in election administration, examines the vulnerabilities in the election process that enable foreign and domestic interference and analyzes the components of the process and their vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks. The program focuses on election officials who are the custodians of the election process because the disruption of an election is liable to undermine a country’s democratic stability and the public’s faith in democratic institutions altogether.
Democratic elections processes are composed of various interacting players and entities. Components of the democratic process increasingly use infrastructure, including cyberspace. The election process is comprised of stages generally referred to as the electoral cycle that proceeds in chronological order, as shown in the diagram below. The major cyber threats to this process, against which countries must defend themselves, are attacks on election infrastructure, including attempts to influence public discourse and opinion.
Topics will involve
The course attempts to examine the following issues and more:
- Opportunities, challenges, and cyber threats during the Pre-election period, Election period, and Post-election period.
- Cyber intrusions platforms and category of system failure
- Cyber security standards for protecting election infrastructure
- Postelection audits, tests, and election outcomes
- ICT, cyber-attack and the Content of the Public Discourse
- Identifying and categorization of the attackers
- Exploring opportunities for addressing ICT and cyber vulnerabilities to election administration.
USICES avails itself of a wide range of experts who have trained in the past decade more than 500 election administrators and offered graduate academic programs on the subject in different universities across the United States and around the globe. In addition, we have included among the pool of experts, presentations from representatives from various U.S. federal, state, and local election departments and boards to add value and patronage to the training course, as well as provide an opportunity for participants to build networks.
Facilitators use activity-based approaches that maximize retention of knowledge and skills learned. In addition, the training is designed to promote or reinforce professional confidence, ethics, understanding of principles of best electoral practice, and access to networks of peers. Facilitators encourage participants to reflect on their better organization, providing comparative examples and alternative approaches, generating blueprints or support for organizational reform. Participants will be evaluated for each topic through quizzes and a final test after the training to complete the course and get a certificate.
Participants will also have the opportunity to receive practical on-site scenario and meetings with officials of United States based State and Local Election offices to have firsthand knowledge on how elections are administered in the United States. This presents an avenue to build networks and promote the exchange of experiences between participants and U.S. election officials.
Who can apply?
This course is primaries important for:
- Senior and Mid-level officials of Election Management Bodies (EMBs)
- Leaders of Civil Society Organizations directly engaged in election-related processes
- Officials of media organizations involved in elections
- Officials working with election assistance providing organizations, graduate students, etc.
How to apply
Prospective applicants wishing to apply must fill and submit the application form together with their resume and two (2) references. Application form.
Course instructors will then review the applications and CV/resume. Once the instructor accepts or denies your application, you will receive notification by email. If your application is accepted, you will receive further instructions by email, including payment information. Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application within 10 working days. Applications will be accepted on a rolling base and will stop when the required number of participants is reached.
Application Deadline: February 3, 2020
Cost of Training
The cost for the training is $1000 and covers, tuition, study materials, breakfast and lunch for the duration of training, ground transportation to and from selected U.S. Federal, States, and County election offices. Complete payments must be received not more than 14 days after notification of acceptance. Participants are responsible for their own lodging and travel arrangements, including visas. USICES offer reduced hotel rates through some partner hotels. Selected participants will be provided with the list of these hotels.
Visas to the United States
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a request for an invitation letter to join the course. Once it has been emailed to you, it should be provided to the U.S. embassy at which you apply for a visa. Please note that you will need a tourist (B or B1) visa; because our courses are not a university program, a more complicated visa process for study in the United States is not necessary. Note also that we are not able to influence the decisions of U.S. embassies, but our staff will be attentive to respond to any questions the embassy may have about your application. Invitation letters are sent to applicants who have completed the application process and paid the course fee.