Colorado Secretary of State: Ease Up On Voting Security

| Fri Dec. 9, 2011 10:30 AM EST

It appears that Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler didn't get the memo about New York's recent voting machine troubles. The Denver Post reports:

The Colorado Secretary of State's office is considering changes that would relax security around electronic voting machines, making the already-vulnerable equipment more susceptible to hacking, opponents of the equipment and the draft rules said today... Richard Coolidge, public information officer for Secretary of State Scott Gessler, said the aim is to provide more guidance and clarity to county clerks, thereby creating more uniformity in how rules are applied.

"We're trying to balance common sense, practical application with security on the other end," Coolidge said. "We can do that without compromising any security."

Gessler wants to end "continuous" video surveillance of voting stations, and reduce the number of tamper-proof seals that must be placed on cases holding voting machine components. He also wants to eliminate a requirement that election officials report suspicions of election machine tampering to the secretary of state. Instead, he wants to delegate that authority to county officials, at their behest.

Considering Colorado's relatively recent voting machine snafus, you'd think Gessler would be inclined to preserve these protective measures, not break them down: In 2006, Colorado voters sued then-Secretary of State Mike Coffman to get him to decertify a number of faulty electronic voting terminals and ballot scanners, the Post reports. Those machines were recertified later, accompanied by a slate of new rules for using each type of machine and ensuring their security.

Perhaps the thinking here is to let local officials have more control over voting and save the state some money in the process. But given the potential problems that could ensue, it seems like the state could be inviting an unnecessary risk.