Wednesday, September 7, 2016

NASS spokesperson explains its position on designating state voting systems as “critical infrastructure”

On August 15th, two weeks before the FBI announced that Illinois’ and Arizona’s voter registration systems had been hacked, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson conducted a conference call with, among others, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), about which you can read here, to talk about the cybersecurity of the states’ electoral infrastructure.
During that call, he said that “DHS is exploring all ways to deliver more support to the sector in a collaborative and non-prescriptive manner, and would be examining whether designating certain electoral systems as critical infrastructure would be an effective way to offer this support.”

In order to more fully explore the issue of declaring state electoral systems to be “critical infrastructure,” Etopia News contacted NASS and asked for its perspective on this question.

NASS spokesperson Kay Stimson provided these comments:

“NASS does not have a position on the critical infrastructure question at this point, although some members have been vocal in their belief that such a move would greatly undercut traditional state and local control of elections and serve as a major distraction in moving forward with securing our elections from cyber threats by foreign government adversaries.

“To have a thoughtful discussion on this issue amongst our members, we need to have more information on what a critical infrastructure designation for elections would actually mean.  We have no idea what systems would be included under the federal government’s provisions. 

“When we reached out to DHS for information in mid-August, Secretary Johnson told NASS members that he won’t make any decisions on the critical infrastructure designation until after the November elections.

“For now, states tell us they have had no issues in getting cybersecurity information and assistance from federal agencies without any designation in place.”

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