II. Federal-State Updates
State and federal officials testified before the House Homeland Security Committee this week on the current state of preparations for the 2018 mid-term elections. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and DHS Undersecretary Christopher Krebs testified that the great threat facing elections offices is to the computer networks used by state agencies than to the ballot boxes themselves.
“Voting systems in and of themselves are systems within systems,” Krebs testified according to StateScoop when asked if he was aware of any attempts by hackers to directly access ballot-counting machines. “You also have backend systems that store voter registrations. Just like any IT system, there are going to be vulnerabilities. What we’re looking for is resilience in the system.”
In a separate hearing on Capitol Hill this week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee took voting machine vendors to task on several issues. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) expressed his dismay with Hart InterCivic for failing to cooperate with a security review in Virginia. Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden (D) went after ES&S for failing to respond to his questions about their cybersecurity practices. And Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) testified about his bipartisan efforts to refine the Senate Elections Act.
“We want to put some processes in place to make sure that we’ve not forgotten the lessons from 2016,” Lankford (R-Okla.) said in his testimony according to GCN. “There are some basic things that could be done while still allowing the states to control their election structures and have flexibility on the type of election machines that they want to have.”