Public Sector Innovation award brought home to Colorado

Hilary Rudy and the 2018 Public Sector Innovation award, presented to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for implementing risk-limiting audits. (SOS photo)

Deputy Elections Director Hilary Rudy earlier this month went to pick up the public sector innovation award given to Colorado for the use of risk-limiting audits.

The awards dinner was held in McLean, Va., where vendors, local, state and federal government projects were recognized for reimagining public-sector IT.

The Public Sector Innovation category “focuses on transformative tech that is truly reinventing government — at the federal, state and local levels,” according to the Government Innovation Awards website. Colorado’s RLA process in August was recognized as being the gold standard for ensuring election results.

A risk-limiting audit is a procedure that provides strong statistical evidence that the election outcome is right and has a high probability of correcting a wrong outcome. Risk-limiting audits require election officials to examine and verify more ballots in close races and fewer ballots in races with wide margins.

The SOS office was nominated for the award by Free & Fair, a company that provides elections services and systems. They developed the software used in Colorado’s risk-limiting audit in the 2017 coordinated election.

“I enjoyed the opportunity to pick up the public sector innovation award on behalf of Colorado,” Rudy said. “It’s an honor to be recognized alongside these incredible innovation projects.”

Colorado SOS participates in Homeland Security election exercise

Two Colorado Secretary of state staffers, Trevor Timmons, left, and Rich Schliep, right, flank two Dominion Voting Systems staffers, Donetta Davidson and Kay Stimson, after a Department of Homeland Security tabletop exercise Monday. (SOS photo)

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office and other agencies participated Monday in a virtual exercise aimed at election preparedness.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security sponsored the tabletop exercise with some 20 states as the general election looms and concerns continue about election security issues.

“They posed scenarios and asked, ‘How would you approach this?’” said Trevor Timmons, chief information officer for the Colorado Secretary of State.

Timmons and other SOS officials, along with members of the Colorado National Guard, the Governor’s Office of Information and Technology and DHS officials based in Colorado participated in the table top from the Secretary of State’s conference room.

Additionally,  Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, recognized as a leader in election security, appeared today on a national public radio program to talk about election security.

“You have to have processes in place that people can have confidence in. That’s why Colorado has some of the highest voter participation rates in the country,” he told The Takeway.

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Homeland Security “hunts” at Colorado Secretary of State’s office

The “bad boys” of the Colorado Secretary of State’s IT department: Craig Buesing and Dave Shepard, network and security engineers, Trevor Timmons, chief information officer, and Rich Schliep, chief information security officer. (SOS photo)

At the invitation of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, Department of Homeland Security officials came to Colorado hunting for bad guys in the SOS’s network.

Did they bag anything?

“I learned a new acronym: NSTR — Nothing Significant to Report,” said  Trevor Timmons, the Secretary of State’s office chief information officer.

The exercise is the latest effort by Williams to ensure that Colorado’s elections are accurate and secure. The Washington Post recently wrote about “how Colorado became the safest state to cast a vote.” Colorado already had implemented many of the measures recommended after election officials learned of Russia’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.

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Secretary Williams, others, concentrate on election security in Philly

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, center front, with some of the nation’s secretaries of state, including Colorado’s Wayne Williams, back right. She spoke to the National Association of Secretaries of State about election security at NASS’ conference in Philadelphia on July 14.

Election security once again dominated the conversation — and Colorado once again proved to be a leader — when the National Association of Secretaries of State gathered in Philadelphia for its summer conference.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlined for the group the steps his office has taken when it comes to cybersecurity — moves that that led Colorado to be named a finalist for the fourth time in five years for a NASS award that recognizes innovation.

“Elections only work if people trust them,” Williams said.

Four Coloradans with a seat at a high-powered elections security meeting in Philadelphia; Judd Choate, elections director for the Colorado secretary of state, Sarah Ball Johnson, clerk for the city of Colorado Springs, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Amber McReynolds, elections director for Denver.

Kirstjen Nielsen, the director of the Department of Homeland Security, reinforced to secretaries of state and election officials that one of her top priorities has been to enhance the resilience of the nation’s election infrastructure.

“As I see it,” she said, “election security is national security.”

And the day before NASS kicked off its conference, Williams and other members of the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council met at the same Philadelphia hotel to discuss the security of election systems.

The group oversees how the Department of Homeland Security works with state and local jurisdictions to implement its designation of elections systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

“At one point there were 27 people around the table — including members of DHS, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and other national groups – four of those 27 were from Colorado,” Williams said. “Colorado’s commitment to election security is so strong.”

The other Coloradans at that meeting were Judd Choate, the elections director for the Colorado Secretary of State, Sarah Ball Johnson, the clerk in Colorado Springs, and Amber McReynolds, Denver’s elections director.

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Colorado praised for election security

From left to right, Eric Rosenbach, co-head of the Belfer Center at Harvard, Lisa Monaco, former Homeland Security adviser to President Obama, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, discuss election security at an event earlier this month. (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation photo)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams and his operation were praised during a recent cybersecurity initiative in Northern California, one of a series of cybersecurity events the Colorado SOS has been invited to participate in.

Eric Rosenbach, co-head of the Belfer Center at Harvard, moderated a discussion on election security between Secretary Williams and Lisa Monaco, who served as the Homeland Security adviser to President Obama.

“Your team in Colorado is very good, essentially recognized as one of the best in the nation,” Rosenbach told Williams.

Monaco agreed.

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