SEATTLE — The number one priority for election day is get people to vote. Number two — make sure every one of those ballots is valid, legal and not tampered with.
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman says the fact that Washingtonians use paper ballots, versus electronic touch screens, is the first brick in a foundation of secure voting.
Plus, since voters get 18 days to vote with those ballots, they have the time to carefully make their choices or fix a problem with a ballot.
Then once that paper’s turned in, Wyman said there’s no internet involved in tabulating ballots.
“The actual machines are not connected to the internet and that’s one more layer of security that we have in place,” said Wyman.
Still, there’s always that chance of a breach. Russian hackers targeted Washington state during the 2016 election, but failed. Ever since then, Wyman said they’ve worked on ways to look for fraud and developed protocols to respond.
“We know what viral activity looks like and so we always benchmark the activity that we’re seeing gains that and when things happen that don’t look normal we start blocking IP addresses,” said Wyman.
While she said our system lends itself to security, Wyman admits we now lack one thing.
Check into social media on election day and you’ll see it: Thousands of Americans posting pictures showcasing their civic pride.
“I think the biggest complaint I hear now about vote-by-mail is that we lost the ‘I voted’ sticker,” said Wyman.
The state elections staff also created some ‘I voted’ frames on their Facebook page, for people to use, in several different languages
On the flip side, there are no long lines to cast a ballot and Wyman said more parents are really teaching the next generation the process and importance of voting, sitting around the kitchen table, filling out their ballots.