With the debacle of Monday night’s Iowa caucus, Oregon’s mail-in ballot system looks better all the time.
And following foreign interference in the 2016 elections, a team of county, state and federal organizations, including the FBI, have partnered to protect the integrity of the 2020 elections.
They’re urging local county clerks to focus on strengthen security on every phase of the vote counting system.
“What really is new is the growing sophistication of the threats,” said FBI agent Renn Cannon. “The days of an email that has obvious misspellings and a ridiculous premise, that’s not what happens these days.”
With Oregon voters mailing their ballots or leaving them at official drop boxes, hackers have fewer places to get in and target the election system.
“I’ve only got 38 places in the state that I have to secure: Each of the 36 counties and we’ve got one server here and one in Baker City,” said Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout. “Whereas if you’ve got polling places, you can have hundreds, thousands of places that you have to secure and also have logistical challenges of sharing those results and the ballots, getting them back to the to the central warehouse.”
The server in Baker City, in eastern Oregon, provides redundant protection for the server in Salem, so if one fails, the other can be accessed by elections officials, Trout said.
On Wednesday evening, officials from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Oregon Criminal Justice Division and Facebook will provide joint training in Salem for candidates and election officials from across Oregon, Williams said. The goal is to provide steps each can take to mitigate threats they might receive.
“The nature of malign foreign influence operations will continue to change as technology and our adversaries tactics evolve,” Williams said. “One thing is certain. The threats will persist.”
Trout says you have to do your part as well.
“It really falls upon all of us individually as informed voters to make sure our elections are secure. We have to protect our democracy by not falling for misinformation or disinformation. For looking at the facts. Asking questions.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report