Colorado election officials on Wednesday sought to bolster voter confidence in the state’s election system and warn against misinformation and disinformation at a virtual forum hosted by The Colorado Sun.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold said she remained confident in Colorado’s system, a sentiment echoed by her Republican predecessor, Wayne Williams.
“I’m very confident in our elections, and I’m just excited that people are early voting,” Griwsold said.
Williams said Colorado’s mail-in voting system continues to lead the nation.
“Colorado’s system works because we do it right,” he said.
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While false information about the election swirls online and from President Donald Trump, the officials encouraged Coloradans to vote as soon as they can and not give too much credence to national noise. They said Colorado’s system placed it in an enviable position for voting during a pandemic, and election concerns that may be relevant elsewhere may not apply in Colorado.
Amber McReynolds, a former Denver clerk and recorder who is now CEO of the National National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition, said Colorado has one of the nation’s best election systems. She said mail voting, transparency, agency cooperation and stringent election security made Colorado stand out among other states. She encouraged people to talk openly about voting in Colorado. “Share your experience, because I think the Colorado experience is so amazing,” she said.
And after Russia tampered with the 2016 election and officials have warned about interference this year, Griswold downplayed cybersecurity concerns.
“You can’t actually hack the election in Colorado,” Griswold said. “That’s because we have a voter-verified paper ballot. A paper ballot is not hackable.”
Williams, who lost his reelection bid to Griswold in the 2018 election, was wary about national efforts to expand mail-in voting. He said he is concerned about other efforts to expand mail voting, including a provision in the Democratic-authored stimulus bill known as the HEROES act that would remove some state requirements regarding voter identification.
“The details matter,” Williams said. “Colorado has continued to ensure that we have the processes in place to keep voting safe.”
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But even while officials worked to assuage any concerns about election security, they repeatedly warned voters about the threat of misinformation and disinformation.
Misinformation refers to false or inaccurate information. Disinformation is false information designed to distort facts, or deceive and confuse.
Blumenthal, whom Griswold hired in July to lead a new team focused on election cybersecurity, urged Coloradans to seek out reliable election information and be skeptical of what they see on social media. Prior to his current role, Blumenthal led a Department of Homeland Security panel focused on countering foreign influence in the 2018 election.
He said the biggest concern among the intelligence community is that foreign actors would try to spread false information in the election. “We think foreign enemies are trying to undermine confidence in our electoral process and specifically in our election results,” Blumenthal said.
He told viewers to think critically about what they read online, question the sources of election information, and turn to govotecolorado.gov for election-related information.
The other officials encouraged viewers to make a plan to vote, do it as soon as they can and be sure to carefully follow all instructions on the ballot.
“The sooner you vote the more time you have to correct any issue that might be there,” Williams said.