Colorado takes the offensive against election misinformation

Security officials work to prevent disinformation as a record number of voters have already cast ballots

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced a statewide initiative Tuesday to combat misinformation surrounding the 2020 general election.

The Misinformation Initiative will launch through ads on social media and digital platforms to instruct voters how to identify false reports and claims in the lead up to Nov. 3.

More than three times the number of Coloradans have already submitted their vote than during this period than during the same time in the 2016 election, with over 900,000 ballots returned as of Monday.

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“Colorado is considered the safest state in which to cast a ballot, and we continually innovate to maintain our leading cyber preparedness,” Griswold said in a statement. But added that “Foreign adversaries are conducting influence operations to try to undermine Americans’ confidence in the electoral process, and states must act.”

In response to foreign influence during the 2016 presidential election, Griswold also launched a five-man team of security experts, to address Colorado’s election security through monitoring and combatting cyber security and disinformation.

Former Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Counter Terrorism and Threat Prevention for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Nathan Blumenthal, has headed the operation known as Rapid Response Election Security Cyber Unit (RESCU).

Blumenthal’s goal was to bridge “the gap between cyber experts and county election administrators and on strategies to combat cyber-attacks and disinformation,” Griswold said in a statement earlier this year.

The Misinformation Initiative is an extension of Colorado’s efforts to inform voters on how to spot doctored videos, images and misleading content from foreign adversaries and from those within the U.S.

Even with the protective measures Griswold has taken to secure Colorado’s election system, false stories of voter intimidation populated on Facebook and NextDoor, a social media platform for neighborhoods, last week.

Reports of anti-mask protestors scaring voters from getting too close to a drop box in Fort Collins, popped up on social media  days after Colorado opened their drop boxes.

Additional stories of men in a Denver neighborhood, clad in “tactical gear” and demanding identification from voters, also appeared online – but neither story could be authenticated.

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“There have been several things on social media, and it’s turned out that there is no evidence,” Griswold told Colorado Public Radio Thursday. “Voter intimidation is always illegal…and we will act very quickly to make sure voters have their voices heard and so far everything is going very well.”

Griswold has set up a website for Colorado voters with the motto “Opinions are fun. Facts are better,” which aims to provide voters with guidance on how to spot misinformation and where to seek reliable sources, along with election information.

Griswold has also pushed of measures to be taken outside of the 2020 election cycle, and testified in front of Congress earlier this month on the need for congressional oversight on election disinformation.  

“We need a commission to really move forward to make sure this attack on our nation’s democracy from foreign adversaries does not continually happen every election – that goes from home grown misinformation to the scanning of election infrastructure to the misinformation we’re seeing,” the secretary told the House’s subcommittee on election misinformation. 

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Griswold has said their needs to be a bipartisan commission to address foreign interference in U.S. elections and to provide funding so states and counties can establish protocols similar to Colorado’s to combat election meddling nationally.

The Secretary of State’s office could not be reached by Fox News.