Secretary of State, Colorado
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold was confident about election security headed into 2020, and she’s even more confident about it now. The youngest elected secretary of state in the U.S. and a strong proponent of technology, she said innovation is an important part of addressing new problems, as long as it doesn’t tread on basic security requirements: paper ballots, no voting devices that connect to the Internet and risk-limiting audits afterward.
An outspoken public advocate for federal or cooperative improvements to election security, her office helped push the Department of Homeland Security to change its policy of not alerting statewide officials of attacks on county election infrastructure. After that, her focus turned to disinformation, which she described as the No. 1 threat facing U.S. elections — a new form of voter suppression in which foreign and domestic actors use social media to trick citizens out of their votes, or lie to convince them to vote a certain way. Last summer, Griswold spearheaded a new Rapid Response Election Security Cyber Unit (RESCU), a team of cybersecurity and national security experts headed by Nate Blumenthal, a former senior adviser at CISA with a background in counterterrorism. Much of RESCU’s job was to look for disinformation, respond to it, alert citizens to it and tell them where to find accurate information.
In hindsight, Griswold thinks 2020 was Colorado’s most secure election to date, and at least its most prepared-for. She said RESCU is here to stay and was “incredibly successful,” and now her attention is turning to advocacy at the national level: for federal legislation, a plan for DHS to combat foreign disinformation and sustained attention on cybersecurity.
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