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Oregon election results site: ‘Not secure?’ Not really


While many eyes will be on election results Tuesday night, many others will be watching for any signs of cyber-mischief when it comes to counting those ballots. Which could make it a bit unnerving to go to the state of Oregon’s official results website, which has made great strides in recent years, and see, in the upper-left corner, to the left of the web address, two little words: “Not secure.”

See for yourself at

If you have the latest version of Google Chrome, you likely see those two words. If you have the latest Mozilla Firefox, you instead see a little ‘I’ in a circle. Clicking that brings up a drop-down box with a small red label, stating the “connection is not secure.”

Uh-oh. What gives?

As it turns out, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office has a no-less-secure election results website than it did back in the May primary, when there was no such label of possible alarm.

So what changed? Well, Google Chrome (and other browsers) did – as they get more picky (or as they’d put it, safer) about what is considered a “secure” website. Here’s what Google had to say about the change back in July, when its latest periodic update made that switch, after about two years of warning web developers to get ready.

Bottom line: Google, Mozilla and others now require that the data passing back and forth between you and a website be encrypted, which is what you get with that little “s” after the “http” (https) before the rest of the web address.

Beyond the geek-speak, Oregon election officials want to assure you that just because the election results page is now labeled “not secure,” the results themselves still very much are.

“The counties upload their results to the election night reporting system through a secure connection,” Debra Royal, chief of staff with the secretary of state, told NewsChannel 21 on Monday. “This connection is in no way connected to the official election database.”

So when you get that “not secure” message, Royal assured, “don’t be concerned. The election is secure, as are the results.”

“The ‘not secure’ message is telling you that we have not installed a security certificate on the site,” she said. “We have not done that because the site does not exchange sensitive information like credit cards or other personal information.”

“We do use a certificate for our online (voter) registration system,” Royal added.

So all the other parts of the system are protected, to keep that crucial information safe and in the right hands.

The election results page is just a display of those tallies. You’re not sending any information to it, except to click for a different set of results to load and read.

In fact, now that you noticed that little label there, you might find it in a whole host of other online places you’ve been trusting for all the weeks since this particular security belt got tightened. And nothing bad has happened to you over there, right?

Feel better? No?

There are other options.

Even though the state list also includes all of the counties results, maybe you’d prefer instead to go to the county lists instead, such as the page for Deschutes County results.

Note in the upper-left corner, they have the little “s” after “http” – and thus are labeled as secure.

Crook and Jefferson counties don’t have results laid out quite that way (yet, before the 8 p.m. voting deadline and initial results) — but their web pages are also deemed “secure.”

So if the counties can do it … well, again, nothing to worry about, the state says.

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