Who’s in charge: Secretary of State Wayne Williams Director of Elections Judd Choate
Security in action: The Mile High State represents the pinnacle of secure election practices coming into the 2018 elections. Colorado records its votes on paper ballots, and it is the only current state that conducts mandatory risk-limiting audits comprehensively across the entire state — a practice that’s considered highly effective at statistically detecting incorrect outcomes.
Colorado is a mail ballot state, which means the vast majority of voters submit their votes manually rather than electronically. Whatever election technology the state does use is required to be certified and meet U.S. Election Assistance Commission standards. Most of the tech solutions are very modern, although a tiny handful of counties still use direct-recording electronic voting machines with paper trails (the hope is to eliminate the DRE devices in 2019).
For overseas, absentee ballots, Colorado uses a “Secure Ballot” system that allows voters to print out a paper ballot, physically sign it and then upload it online.
To protect their systems and stored data, including voter registration rolls, state election officials have reportedly adopted access-control technology, intrusion detection and two-factor authentication. Moreover, the state conducts security training and vulnerability assessments, and monitors social media for fake news and disinformation related to the election.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen has previously cited Colorado as a national leader in election security; indeed, it was the only state to proactively come forward and disclose to the DHS that hackers (from Russia) targeted its database in advance of the 2016 elections.