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Secretary of State stands by election security

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Al Jaeger

North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, in his office in October, and his staff have launched the first phase of a technology project to allow for online filings.

In response to a "C" grade for election security from the Center for American Progress, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said he stands by the state's protective measures at the polls, also disputing concerns the CAP raised in its analysis.

"We don't have systems that can be penetrated to change the results," Jaeger said Tuesday. "We don't have voter registration, so there's nothing in that system that they can change, and our records are behind a firewall or a protection of the state."

Jaeger said, as the state's 53 counties rely on individual, unconnected scanners to count paper ballots, hacking is "virtually impossible."

He also highlighted the CAP's "constant reference" to voter registration, which North Dakota does not have. 

"We have a central voter file which really is not a record of who can vote; it's a record of who has voted," Jaeger said. "It's secure, and also the system doesn't contain private information that can be disclosed, and so there's nothing there that can be accessed to change."

He also noted the state's "exceptional" information technology protection. 

In its report, the CAP examined a number of items related to election security, including post-election audits, voting machines and overseas voting.

Jaeger's office could not provide some information regarding cybersecurity requirements to the CAP, whose report appeared to imply that North Dakota has voter registration.

"I don't need to tell them what our standards are. I don't even know. I just know that if there is something called a standard, it's that we're doing everything we possibly can and are keeping up to date with every conceivable thing that we have to do on the state level," Jaeger said.

No state in the CAP's report scored above a B grade for election security.

Josh Boschee, Jaeger's Democratic challenger for his office, said in a statement that North Dakota's election security has "fallen far behind."

"To address this issue head-on, the Secretary of State should immediately undertake steps to implement robust post-election audits, requiring electronic poll books to undergo pre-election testing and require paper poll books be made available in the event of an emergency," Boschee said.

"North Dakota’s Secretary of State must be pro-active and forward-looking to assess and eliminate potential threats to one of our most sacred Constitutional rights, the right to vote."

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


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