Polis orders National Guard to aid in election cybersecurity

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Friday calling on the Colorado National Guard to assist state efforts to combat potential cyber attacks on the state’s voting system for the fall election.

In his order, Polis said that while the state has safeguards over its online vote registration system, he’s calling on the Guard’s Defensive Cyber Operations Element to assist with election cybersecurity defense efforts during the 2021 coordinated election, ballots for which were mailed to voters a week ago.

Polis said he signed the order at the request of Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. No actual threat have been identified. “Even with such security features, online voter registration systems could provide an avenue for cyber actors to gain unlawful access to voter registration databases,” Polis wrote in his order.

“Outside of Colorado, voter registration databases have been compromised by cyber actors hacking into various systems,” the governor added. “While cyber actors are unable to modify voter records, breaches could result in the release of voters’ personally identifiable information.”

Polis said such releases won’t threaten the integrity of elections, but one could help to undermine public confidence in the election system and suppress voter turnout.

A cybersecurity team of nine guardsmen are to begin today, and be on the job through Nov. 4, two days after Election Day.

The team not only is to assist in defensive efforts, but also train election workers on cybersecurity.

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