KC metro election officials weigh in on security of votes

Posted at 9:44 PM, Nov 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 00:08:44-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the biggest questions surrounding the 2020 presidential election has become, “Is my vote secure?” 41 Action News took that question to local and state election officials to get some answers.

Cybersecurity is a threat that has the attention of Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

"I used to talk about the fact that we do have to worry about cybersecurity and the threat level,” Ashcroft said. “We need to make sure that we were honest, forthright and transparent with the people of the state."

In Clay County, a variety of measures are taken to ensure that the voting process is seamless, according to Tiffany Francis, election board director.

"We have several systems in place to make sure that everything is secure, that our votes can't be hacked, that there's nothing that's going to interfere with our election or interfere with with our databases,” Francis said.

Elections are low-tech, so to speak, to minimize risk of systems and results being hacked or tampered with.

When it comes to physical security, Francis has been in contact with both the Clay County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas City, MIssouri, Police Department to ensure the polls are safe and welcoming for voters.

Ballot security is something more voters have voiced concerns about this election. However, everything that happens at the election board is done through a bipartisan process.

Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt said it takes two key cards and two people to access the room where ballots are processed.

“There are security cameras in the ceilings,” Schmidt sai. “The people here, these are sworn under oath as election workers."

Ashcroft said he wants voters to know that poll workers “are not from some shadowy, third-party organization or corporation from overseas.” Rather, they are friends and neighbors.

“Their kids play sports with your kids. You worship with them or you see them at the grocery store or you name it,” he said. “They are from your locality, your city. They're just regular people that give of their time to make sure everyone else can vote."

Corey Dillon, Jackson County Election Board director said his board has 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans and that workers are “equally divided” on Election Day.

"When we do processing for absentee ballots to get the ballots out to people, those are bipartisan teams,” Dillon said. “When we do the processing for the absentee ballots once they're received, those are bipartisan teams. So there are checks and balances all the way."

When it comes to concerns over stolen ballots being mailed and counted, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said that is easier said than done.

“Unless you are really good at forging thousands of people's signatures, it's going to be very difficult to steal an election in Kansas,” Schwab said. “It's easy to vote, but it's really hard to cheat."

Ballot drop boxes also are secured and under surveillance.

"Those drop boxes are being checked, minimum once a day, and generally twice a day,” Schwab said. “We did put in some basic security protocols for counties.”

When asked about the biggest misconception or concern regarding the election, Kansas City Election Board Director Shawn Kieffer, noted voter suppression.

"We strive to make sure that everybody votes and would never in a million years try to supress somebody from voting, but people throw that out there in a heartbeat," Kieffer said.

Francis said that ensure all votes are counted and “every eligible voter” has a chance to vote is top of mind.

Ultimately, everyone agreed that the election process is safe and secure and encouraged people in the community to exercise their right to vote come Tuesday.