Denver Elections Director & CIO Share Advice to Secure Elections

Denver elections offer cybersecurity best practices lessons. Shown is the city skyline.

Collaboration, support from leadership and centralized IT systems and processes are some of the cybersecurity best practices securing Denver elections.

Amber McReynolds, director of elections in Denver and Scott Cardenas, chief information officer for the city and county of Denver, attributed the centralization of the city’s IT servicesas one of the most important factors securing Denver elections.

Over the past nine years, centralization and collaboration have increased expertise in elections from one person to five, according to GCN.com.

We can have year-round conversations on the expectations and needs, so by the time that election night rolls around we can have a fairly smooth process,” Cardenas, who oversees more than 50 local agencies, said during an October 4th cybersecurity roundtable hosted and moderated by U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The purpose of the roundtable was to share information and best practices in how to secure elections under the emerging threats to election cybersecurity by nation states.

Leveraging Existing Technologies & Centralized Coordination

McReynolds, who has administered Denver elections for more than 12 years, and Cardenas discussed how they are leveraging technologies like the city and county’s 311 service, as well as other network infrastructure and applications, to create a secure elections strategy.

It’s essential to have visibility into the tools, “to know if someone has entered into the environment,” and writing the scripts for a specific response to be ready when elections are imminent, said Cardenas.

McReynolds cited the city and county’s centralized technology services for helping to streamline collaboration and increase cybersecurity coordination. For example, Denver has developed 60 cybersecurity modules that all civic employees must take under a uniform compliance approach.

Reducing Equipment & Streamlining Processes

McReynolds said that going from 300 polling stations to about 30 has helped mitigate Denver elections hacking risks. In addition to reducing equipment, the length of time people have to vote has also been an asset in terms of cybersecurity oversight.

McReynolds and Cardenas stressed the relationships of civic IT and with agency business partners, and critical top level support, for auditing and assuring the cybersecurity of technology systems.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center are also sharing threat information to increase the knowledge base in U.S. counties.

Watch the roundtable broadcast which was broadcast live on Facebook:

About the author

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox

Andrea Fox is Editor of EfficientGov.com and Senior Editor at Praetorian Digital. She is based in Massachusetts.