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National Guard to help with cybersecurity defense efforts during Colorado election

State seeks to prevent personally identifiable information from being released
La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker drops off 360 ballots during the November 2019 election at the Durango post office. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Friday to help with cybersecurity defense efforts in Colorado’s election on Nov. 2.

The order activates up to nine members of the Colorado National Guard Defensive Cyber Operations Element to help prevent data breaches. The order comes after Colorado’s secretary of state requested the Colorado National Guard “provide election cybersecurity support,” according to the order.

The National Guard members may participate in “training activities and assist with election cybersecurity defense efforts” from Oct. 16 to Nov. 4, according to an Oct. 15 Polis news release.

Colorado, like other states, uses online voter registration systems that allow voters to update their voter registration information. According to the order, these online systems are protected by security features to help prevent data tampering and maintain confidentiality. Despite these features, the online systems could “provide an avenue for cyber actors to gain unlawful access to voter registration databases.”

The order says that cyber actors are not able to modify voter records, but breaches could result in personal identifiable information of voters being released.

“The exposure of voters’ personally identifiable information does not threaten the integrity of our state elections, but could undermine public confidence in the system and suppress voter registration,” the order says.

Coloradans are asked to vote on local measures, as well as three statewide initiatives in the upcoming coordinated election. Ballots must be “in the hands of the county clerk” by 7 p.m. Nov. 2 to be counted. The exception to this: People who are in line at a voting site before 7 p.m. will have their vote counted if they stay to vote, even if the vote takes place after 7 p.m.

Coloradans can find their ballot drop-off and voter service and polling center locations at their county clerk’s website or by using the polling location lookup website.

To read more stories from Colorado Newsline, visit www.coloradonewsline.com.