State, county election leaders already battling against misinformation campaigns ahead of midterms

Oct 4, 2022, 6:44 PM | Updated: Oct 20, 2022, 3:10 pm
(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

With campaign 2022 in full swing, both Washington’s Secretary of State and the head of King County elections are trying to assure the public that the election system is secure, while also trying to dispel mis- and disinformation about elections.

Both elections officials spoke Tuesday morning at a roundtable on election security held at the King County elections headquarters in Renton. Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and King County Elections Director Julie Wise both mentioned baseless and unproven claims of voter fraud from the 2020 election as one reason why misinformation was prevalent during this year’s primary cycle.

They also said they suspect that misinformation campaign will impact the general election cycle for the midterms over the coming month.

Both Hobbs and Wise said they are trying to get ahead of the game because they’re anticipating a lot of misinformation this election cycle.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO 

Wise stressed that King County Elections has tabulation equipment and servers where all votes are stored and that system is air-gapped — a term commonly applied to a computer that has never been connected to the internet — and that the system is on a hardwired network and not connected to the internet.

Both election officials mentioned that people who question elections have often centered on the tabulating equipment and servers, or using the internet to change votes, or hacking into tabulation machines to do so.

The general assurance from Hobbs was that the election system is secure in Washington state and that the process statewide will be transparent and accessible. He said there will be a statewide awareness campaign about election security dubbed the “Vote with Confidence” campaign.

Hobbs also said there will be new resources to combat disinformation, such as information security and response systems to protect election infrastructure at state and county levels. There will also be expanded on-site reviews and more cyber protection for all Washington counties.

Hobbs said that Washington’s vote-by-mail system has worked for many cycles and even said that in-person voting in other states has often led to voter suppression or simply limited the ability of people to vote. He admitted that criticism this election cycle is inevitable.

“We continue to see levels of disinformation, particularly continued false narratives from the 2020 election. Already this year, we’ve had three major misinformation campaigns and we’ve had one cyber threat,” said Hobbs.

As the head of King County Elections, Wise emphasized that there is a dedicated information technology team at King County Elections that is certified in cyber security. She also said that all staff undergo cyber security training.

Wise added that systems and emails are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

“Election security is not an area where you can check a box and be done. We have to be vigilant and on guard every single day as we know that those who wish to undermine our elections don’t just try once and then give up,” Wise said.

Wise also said that vote-by-mail creates a paper trail for votes by its very nature, dispelling criticism that hard copy trails for votes don’t exist. She also stressed that there are dozens of security cameras and personnel on site at King County Elections headquarters, along with physical barriers and secure storage areas for ballots. Web cameras monitor the vote tally so people can watch at any moment as staff member process ballots. Cameras have even been added in recent years and are live at all hours during the counting of votes.

Wise did stress that her office has been deluged with public records requests, many of which are asking for private voter information that cannot be shared. She said that the records requests come each and every month and often question the validity of the process.

Ballots will be sent out in a few weeks. Election Day is a little over a month away on Nov. 8, 2022.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO 

Local News

Trader Joe's...
L.B. Gilbert

Trader Joe’s settles with City of Seattle after labor laws violated

In a settlement with the City of Seattle, the Trader Joe’s Company must pay $55,009.51 for violations of Seattle labor laws.
16 hours ago
Tacoma parade...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Man arrested after driving through barricades of Santa parade in Tacoma

A man was arrested Sunday afternoon after driving through barricades during a Santa parade in Tacoma, the Tacoma Police Department announced.
16 hours ago
REAL ID airport...
Bill Kaczaraba

REAL ID delayed in WA state, across the nation

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it is delaying the REAL ID enforcement to May 7, 2025.
16 hours ago
light rail...
L.B. Gilbert

Councilmember calls for light rail ‘starter line’ from Bellevue to Redmond

Sound Transit is exploring starting light rail service on the Eastside despite delays in construction connecting to the main line.
16 hours ago
social workers...
Bill Kaczaraba

Everett developing alternative 911 responses by using more social workers

The city of Everett is developing ways to deal with 911 calls by sending social workers as first responders involving mental health issues.
16 hours ago
L.B. Gilbert

5 rescued by Seattle firefighters from monorail after power outage

The Seattle Fire Department (SFD) responded to the monorail losing power Monday morning, trapping several riders inside.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
State, county election leaders already battling against misinformation campaigns ahead of midterms