The USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, together with partners from across USC, is launching a training program that empowers election and campaign officials nationwide to reinforce their defenses against digital attacks that may affect the integrity and outcome of elections, it was announced Thursday.

With support from Google, the bipartisan initiative will provide in-state training sessions in all 50 states, according to USC.

Election 2020 is just 12 months away, and experts anticipate that the United States will be the target of foreign and domestic cyberattacks that could compromise the country’s infrastructure, local and state governments, and news and information.

Starting in January, the Election Security and Information Project will launch in-state programming consisting of a day-long series of briefings and exercises. While the curricula will be designed for state and local election officials, campaign officials of all parties, academics, non-governmental organizations, journalists and students, programming will be open to the public and media to ensure maximum transparency, according to USC.

“Our goal is to help state and local officials be better prepared for foreseeable threats — regardless of source, origin, party or candidate targeted,” said USC University Professor Geoffrey Cowan, the project’s principal investigator.

With support from the Democracy Fund, CCLP is currently working with the National Governors Association to conduct workshops in six states. Now, with grant support from Google, CCLP will build upon this effort by leveraging faculty expertise from six of USC’s schools to create and deploy leading-edge, bipartisan election security curricula, USC said.

“In advance of the 2020 election, we are committed to enhancing election security for voters, campaigns and journalists alike,” said Kristie Canegallo, vice president of Google’s Trust and Safety team. “We’re proud to support USC’s Election Security and Information Project to provide comprehensive training to candidates, campaigns, academics, elected officials and NGOs to help them prepare for security challenges before the 2020 election.”

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