McCaskill Letter to DHS Seeks Answers on Elections “Critical Infrastructure” Designation

[Screenshot image via fcw]

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, has written a letter to the Secretary John Kelly of the Department of Homeland Security with a long list of questions about DHS’ plans for the designation of elections as “critical infrastructure.” As The Hill reports,

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) directed a number of questions at Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly in a letter this month in order to better understand the designation, which was made by his predecessor Jeh Johnson just weeks before Barack Obama left the White House…

In doing so, the Obama administration opened up election infrastructure—including polling places, vote tabulations locations, and technology such as voting machines and registration databases-–to federal protections upon request from state and local governments. 

The move invited strong opposition from some state-level officials. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) adopted a bipartisan resolution in February opposing the designation and has asked DHS to outline its legal parameters.

“Several state secretaries of state have raised questions regarding how DHS plans to implement this designation and what it means for their states’ independent authority to oversee elections,” McCaskill wrote in the March 7 letter…

McCaskill, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked for responses from Kelly to a number of questions by Friday [March 17] in order to “better understand the designation and [his] plans for implementation.” 

Here is the list of questions for DHS about the designation (SLTT = “state, local, tribal and territorial”, “ODNI = “Office of the Director of National Intelligence”):

These are the same questions which the EAC aims to help state and local election officials answer, but this additional inquiry could also be helpful in clarifying the scope and character of the DHS designation, which seems to have everyone guessing. I’ll keep an eye out for a response from DHS and share if it becomes available. There are still way more questions than answers about this issue, but here’s hoping that starts to change very soon.

Stay tuned …

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