COLORADO SPRINGS – In the aftermath of the release of the Mueller Report, News 5 wants to focus on what seems to be lost – the attack on the U.S. democratic process by the Russian government.
The report concludes quote “The Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency…and worked to secure that outcome” and quote “expected it (the Trump campaign) would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts,” close quote.
This was done by Russians hacking the Clinton campaign, the Democratic Party, and other institutions as well as a targeted social media campaign. Our question is how do we maintain the integrity of our system moving forward and what’s being done now?
News 5 spoke with Wayne Williams, former secretary of state and now Colorado Springs City Council member, to take a closer look at how Colorado is viewed as one state that has put several safeguards in place to protect our election system.
Williams shared that attempts to influence elections in the U.S. have been going on for decades. The job now for elected officials is to step up and get the funds needed to ensure the country’s election process is secure.
“Securing our elections is one of the fundamental parts of having a representative democracy like we have in Colorado and in the United States,” said Williams. When he was secretary of state in 2015 Colorado began to take several steps to do just that, one being a voter verifiable paper ballot.
“When you cast a ballot, whether you cast in the mail ballot that you receive or you cast a ballot at a voting machine at a clerk’s office, or voter service and polling center, there’s always a paper ballot that is produced as a result of that.”
Something else implemented – the nation’s first risk-limiting audit.
“That means after the election is over we randomly pull a certain number of ballots…we review those to make sure that the machines accurately tally that specific ballot.”
The state also started two-factor authentication in regards to the voter registration database.
“That means nobody can get in. Even if they steal a password, even if they hack a password, they can’t get into that voter database and try to make any changes in it.”
Having our election system hijacked is a concern for people like David Burke.
“That’s a really big deal,” said Burke. “It’s time to leave Trump alone and it’s time to start looking towards more of Homeland Security…the NSA is out there, the CIA is out there, Homeland Security’s out there. They should be doing a better job of preventing things like this from happening.”
Williams said there are some states that haven’t implemented these election protections yet and that they need to make this a priority.
Colorado was only one among 21 targeted states to report to Homeland Security that Russian interests attempted to hack in to our system in 2016 and is considered one of the safest states in the
country to vote.
The Secretary of State’s office actually has more internet technology staff than purely elections related staff and it monitors Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as part of it’s social media security management.