Election Security Spotlight – Why Use .gov with Your Website?

What It Is

Websites and email addresses contain a domain name to identify the type of organization associated with the name. Examples of a domain include .com, .org.us, .edu, and .gov. Entities register domains to use in their online services, such as a website or email. The .gov domain is available only to U.S. government organizations and publicly controlled entities. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is responsible for managing the .gov domain. For election offices, utilizing the .gov domain is particularly beneficial and available through CISA at no cost.

Why It Matters

Election officials are constantly working to gain and maintain public trust and confidence in the election process. One benefit of using the GOV .gov domain is that it improves security and trust in services provided by any level of government in the United States. When an entity uses the .gov domain, the public knows that they are engaged with a government agency. The .gov domain identifies you as a government agency and helps your office establish itself as a trusted source of election information.

Here are a few other ways that using the .gov domain improves your security:

  • Multi-factor authentication requires that you enter an additional passcode, which generated by the Google Authenticator app or a similar application, after entering your password. This adds an additional obstacle for anyone trying to log in as you.
  • Web browsers require users to make a secure HTTPS connection, rather than an HTTP connection, to your websites. A secure HTTPS connection helps ensure that the content you publish on your website is what the public sees, and it aids in protecting the privacy of users who visit your website. This means that .gov domains are preloaded.
  • It provides the option to add a security contact for your domain. This means that the public can easily report any potential security issues they experience or suspect with your online services, such as online voter registration. It is recommended that a team email address be utilized solely for this purpose.

What You Can Do

If your jurisdiction is not currently using the .gov domain, please talk to the IT department in your jurisdiction about utilizing this no-cost service. To register, visit CISA’s registration page. It provides a step-by-step process to get a .gov domain at no cost.