Who’s in Charge: Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, Interim Director of Elections Steve Trout

The Pacific Northwest is big on preserving its forests, but if there were ever a good use of trees, it’s the millions of paper-based ballots that Oregon mails out before every election.

Indeed, Oregon is a vote-by-mail state whose only electoral technology consists of ballot marking systems and optical scanners. Voting is entirely paper ballot-based — with no exceptions, not even for absentee voters. (However, overseas voters can return their voted ballots electronically, which is considered an insecure process.)

The Beaver State reportedly uses a tiered structure for audits, whereby the number of ballots recounted depends on how narrow the margin is between candidates. (The closer the race, the greater number of votes are re-tabulated.)

Oregon received $5.36 million in federal funds in 2018 to bolster its election security. And the year before that, state legislators took measures to budget in new elections technology as well as a new IT security position with the responsibility of implementing said technology.

Currently, Oregon’s voter registration system protections include access control, logging, encryption and an intrusion detection system. It also performs vulnerability assessments, patch management, and cybersecurity training, in hopes to thwart malicious activity like what occurred in 2016, when Russian hackers targeted the Oregon and at least 20 other states.