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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Clark County investigating ‘suspicious activity’ on network; some services down

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark County’s Information Technology department is investigating suspicious activity detected Saturday on the county’s computer network.

According to a press release Sunday, the department is “actively looking into the situation and working on a solution.”

Some parts of the county website are still unavailable, including online maps, the property information center and the geographic information services department.

“As with most organizations, Clark County monitors the security of its networks, which is how this issue was discovered,” said Joni McAnally, communications specialist for the county.

McAnally said there has been no indication that residents’ data or any other data was stolen. McAnally said staff were working to get the county’s online maps working and available to the public, but she did not know when that would be.

In the county elections office, which just mailed ballots for the Nov. 7 general election over the weekend, the computer systems do not appear to have been affected, but some activities in the department have.

“The suspicious activity caused a brief delay in our ability to update, make changes, adds and deletions to the voter registrations record, the VoteWa.gov system,” Auditor Greg Kimsey said Monday.

The election management system and voter registration database are part of the VoteWA.gov statewide system operated by the Washington secretary of state. Although the state and county computers were not affected by the security issue, communications between the two systems were affected.

“I expect by later today, certainly before the end of week, our ability to make those changes will be restored,” Kimsey said.

In the interim, the elections office is accepting paper voter registrations. Newly registered voters or voters needing a replacement ballot can get a provisional ballot in person at the elections office at 1408 Franklin St., in Vancouver, or wait until later in the week to print an official ballot.

“We don’t anticipate this will interfere with our ability to process returned voter ballots, issue preliminary election results or to certify this election,” Kimsey added.

Ballot tabulation and scanning is done on standalone servers separate from the county system and were not affected by the security issue, the release said.

Other departments struggling with computer issues Monday were the prosecuting attorney’s office, jail services and Superior Court.

An updated inmate roster for the Clark County Jail was unavailable as of Monday afternoon and only bookings prior to July 31 were posted.

“The Jail Services Department continues to work with our law and justice partners to coordinate efforts to make sure the jail is open for new arrests and court processes,” David Shook, director of jail services, said in an email Monday.

Superior Court dockets got off to a slow start Monday when court staff found they did not have access to the court computer system, and there were issues connecting with defendants in the jail.

“From my understanding, there were some initial glitches with access, but we have utilized backup and work-around systems to keep the processes going with our internal and external partners,” Shook said.

Attorneys had to rely on printed paper copies for criminal histories and other documents rather than using a laptop. For some cases, court staff left the courtroom to print out documents for the judge to review, slowing court proceedings considerably.

Updates will be posted on the county website at www.clark.wa.gov, and linked to the information ribbon at the top of the page.

Reporter Becca Robbins contributed to this story.