How Safe Is Your Ballot? In The Mountain West It’s Probably Alright

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The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report on Tuesday confirming that Russians hacked U.S. elections in 2016. It outlined what states could do better. It turns out our region is actually not doing too bad a job.

The report confirms that at least 18 un-named states were targeted by Russian hackers during the 2016 presidential elections.

But Michael Sozan confirmed Colorado was one of the states hackers targeted. Sozan is an expert on democracy and elections at the nonpartisan Center for American Progress.

Sozan compared the hacking to the initial stages of a burglary. “People are coming to the front door,” he said, “checking the locks to see if they can get in. But they’re not actually getting in because the lock is secure.”

Sozan’s group recently compiled a 50-state report card on election security.  

“Colorado was actually one of the shining stars of the report card,” he said. “They received a B, which was the highest grade.”

That’s because Colorado uses paper ballots, conducts regular audits and maintains strong cybersecurity on voter registration sites.

Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah all got C’s. Seventeen states got a D or failed outright.  

But Sozan is encouraged by renewed focus on this issue. Congress recently allocated nearly $400 million to states to beef up election infrastructure.

“It’s a little bit late,” he said. “But it will allow states to take a number of proactive measures before this November if the states really want to do what’s right.”

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.