Senate Rules Committee to Hold Hearing Today on Election Security

[Screenshot image via rules.senate.gov]

This morning, the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration will hold a hearing entitled ELECTION SECURITY PREPARATIONS: A STATE AND LOCAL PERSPECTIVE. The witness list is as follows:

Panel I

  • Matt Masterson
    Senior Cybersecurity Advisor, Department of Homeland Security
  • Jim Condos
    Vermont Secretary of State
  • Jay Ashcroft
    Missouri Secretary of State
  • Steve Simon
    Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Connie Lawson
    Indiana Secretary of State

Panel II

  • Shane Schoeller
    Clerk, Greene County, Missouri
  • Noah Praetz
    Director of Elections, Cook County, Illinois

The hearing is designed, in part, to try to spur movement in Congress on election security after the latest setback: failure to get Secure Elections Act language included in the National Defense Authorizations Act, as StateScoop reports:

The sponsors of a bill designed to help state election officials be briefed on threat information failed to insert any of their provisions in a defense spending package approved Monday by the U.S. Senate.

Sens. James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, had pushed to get parts of their bill, the Secure Elections Act, included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

Brought on by concerns from the intelligence community that the Russian government will repeat its 2016 efforts to influence U.S. voters ahead of this November’s midterm elections, the Secure Elections Act was designed to make it easier for state elections officials to get the security clearances necessary to be briefed on threats. It would also direct the Department of Homeland Security to share threat information with state elections officials.

“I’m disappointed that the NDAA did not include provisions from the Secure Elections Act,” Lankford told CyberScoop. “However, I will continue to work with my colleagues to have revised election security legislation enacted into law.”

In April, secretaries of state from six states recommended changes to the bill during conversations with Lankford and Klobuchar. On Wednesday, the Senate Rules Committee, on which Klobuchar is the top Democrat, will hold a hearing on election security with the secretaries of state from Minnesota, Missouri, Indiana and Vermont, along with a Homeland Security cybersecurity adviser.

I’ll be especially curious to see how the state and local officials address not just the technical challenges they face but the political challenges as well, given the problems some states like Minnesota have had in disentangling election security from other issues in their state legislature.

The hearing will begin at 10:30am Eastern time and will be streamed live at this link. Tune in … and stay tuned!

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