By JIM CONDOS
The Aug. 14 Vermont primary election is just two weeks away. While there has been some indication of lower voter turn-out, I hope that as Vermonters, we can make sure that’s not the case in our state.
Voting is the foundation of our democracy. When you go to the polls on Primary Day and Election Day, you’re helping shape the future of our towns, our state and our country. Mark your calendars today – August 14 and November 6 – and be sure to vote!
Early voting is also a great way to increase voter participation. You can vote early for the Aug. 14 primary right now, either in-person at your local town/city clerk’s office, or by requesting a ballot be mailed to you. Requests can be made by phone, email, walk-in or online here.
Reminder, your ballot must be returned to your municipal clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day to ensure it’s counted. Don’t wait until the last minute!
It is unfortunate that in many parts of the country, there are attempts to enact laws that would make it harder for legitimate voters to register and vote – in essence, to challenge or deny access to certain citizens to vote. That’s not the case in Vermont!
As secretary of state, I’m pleased to report that we’ve done many things in Vermont to ensure access to the ballot box for eligible voters. From same-day voter registration, to automatic voter registration, we’re working hard to eliminate any barriers to voting for Vermonters. We’re also in the process of implementing a new, accessible voting system. This will allow individuals with disabilities to vote privately and independently, both at the polls and from home during the early voting period.
The issue of election cyber-security has been in the spotlight since fall 2016 when the news broke that Russian intelligence-service hackers targeted 21 states. Vermont was not one of the states targeted. Fortunately, of the states targeted, twenty successfully defended against the attacks, and our federal partners found no evidence that any votes being altered. Yet, we do know hackers will continue to try to breach and disrupt our voting systems.
Cyber-security is a top priority for my office. In Vermont, we have taken many steps to protect our election system against cyber-attacks, including:
- paper ballots for every vote cast in Vermont
- random audits following the general election
- decentralized elections management, where vote tabulators are not connected to the internet, to each other, or to any external device either by Wi-Fi or hardwire
- daily backup of our voter registration rolls
- blacklisting known problem IP addresses
- installation of a real-time monitor which constantly examines our system and reports on suspicious activity
- periodic penetration testing
- weekly Department of Homeland Security cyber-hygiene scans
- trainings with municipal clerks, who are the front lines of our election system
- implementation of two-factor authentication for any user who has access to our voter registration and election management system
All 50 states need dedicated funding to ensure the integrity of elections now and into the future. We were successful in March, with the support of Senator Patrick Leahy and others in Congress, in securing $380 million ($3 million for Vermont) in Help America Vote Act funds to be used for election cybersecurity and election infrastructure upgrades in states.
We work hard to provide accurate voter information on both Facebook and Twitter, so follow us to stay updated. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us either on these accounts or my office. You can find contact information for my office at www.sec.state.vt.us. Find us on Facebook here, and we’re @VermontSOS on Twitter.
Please be sure to vote on August 14 and on November 6. Your vote is your voice! See you at the polls!
Jim Condos is the Vermont Secretary of State.