In northeast Washington state, a remote region nestled against the Canadian border, the politics lean conservative and wariness of government runs high.
Earlier this year, a Republican-led county commission there made a decision that rippled across Washington — triggering alarm at the secretary of state’s office, and now among cybersecurity experts who have worked for the past six years to shore up the security of America’s voting systems.
It happened on Valentine’s Day during the regular weekly meeting of the three-member commission in Ferry County, where Donald Trump received more than 63% of the vote in the 2020 election.
After an agenda that included an update on the county fair and a discussion about a local water and sewer district, the commissioners took up a proposal to disconnect a recently installed cybersecurity device from the county’s computer network.
The device, known as an Albert sensor, was designed to alert local governments to potential hacking attempts against their networks. More than 900 Albert sensors have been deployed across the country, primarily to states and counties, and they have been a key component of the federal government’s cybersecurity response following Russian election interference around the 2016 election.
But the commissioners in Ferry County had come to the conclusion that the sensor, which had been provided by the state at no cost, was more of a liability than an asset.
“Let’s get rid of it,” Commissioner Nathan Davis said before making his motion to…