Report: Colorado one of best states for election security

DENVER — Colorado received the highest grade in a report examining election security, released by the Center for American Progress.

Colorado received a B, the highest grade given, and was recognized as the first state to conduct mandatory risk-limiting post-election audits in 2017.

“We’re pleased that we received a high grade,” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a prepared statement. “We’re known as leaders in election security.”

No states received an A, but 11 received a B grade. Twenty-three states got a C, 12 got a D and five scored an F. The organization graded all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report judged on seven factors: minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems, voter-verified paper ballots, post-election audits, ballot accounting and reconciliation, return of voted paper absentee ballots, voting machine certification requirements and pre-election accuracy testing.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office does not entirely agree with the rankings, however. In a news release, the office said it disagrees with the decision by the Center for American Progress to mark off points for allowing voters stationed or living overseas to submit ballots electronically via email or fax.

The report states: “Colorado should prohibit voters stationed or living overseas from returning voted ballots electronically. Regardless of the state’s secure ballot return system for electronically voted ballots, we recommend that all voted ballots be returned by mail or delivered in person.”

But Williams differs. “They don’t believe someone who works on a submarine should be allowed to vote,” Williams said in the release. “We do.” He added that the state has added safeguards for sending and receiving ballots because it is not always possible to submit votes in person or by mail.

The report does recognize the state for offering anti-malware protection software at no cost to users of the state’s voter registration system. Doing so monitors and defends against cyber attacks on Election Day.

“The fact that the state requires election officials to carry out pre-election logic and accuracy testing on all machines that will be used in an upcoming election is also commendable,” the report states.  

The Center for American Progress is a non-partisan but progressive policy research and advocacy organization founded by John Podesta in 2003.