When Sharon Draper first became clerk of the lakeside town of Elmore, there were about 250 registered voters. That has grown over the years to approximately 700. But for many elections, the number of voters is still not robust enough to justify the expense of using a tabulator, so the paper ballots are counted by hand. As to fraud concerns, Draper says she doesn’t worry. She knows most of the people in town. “There just are not any security issues, I feel, in a little town like Elmore,” Draper said. Since revelations that 21 states’ systems were targeted by Russian hackers in the 2016 election, security of the democratic process has been a major concern across the country. Election security has been the subject of congressional reports and hearings. Lawmakers approved an expenditure of $380 million earlier this year to help jurisdictions buttress their systems.
While federal and state officials are very focused on cyber threats to the voting system, the officials responsible for administering elections in Vermont towns say they aren’t too worried about the security of the electoral process.
At a U.S. Senate hearing last month, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos argued to lawmakers that the American election system is fortified because it is administered by state and local governments, rather than at the federal level.
“State and local autonomy over elections is our best asset against cyberattacks,” he said. “Our decentralized, low connectivity, electoral process is inherently designed to withstand and deter threats.”