The Department of Homeland Security is upping its game to help state and local officials with strengthening the security of their election systems through the creation of a new task force, according to a senior department official. Last week the DHS National Protection and Programs Directorate established an election task force that includes members from the different departments components, including the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, to work with state and local governments to help them protect their election systems, Christopher Krebs, the acting undersecretary of the NPPD, on Tuesday told the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection. Prior to the creation of the task force, the Office of Infrastructure Protection within NPPD was in charge of working with state and local governments to provide any help they needed with their election systems. Krebs said that elevating this role to a task force is comes down to “matching my words with our execution,” adding that the entity is being resourced “appropriately.”
“We’re pulling the resources together in recognition that we don’t have a lot of time, given there are three elections this year,” he said.
Concerns over the integrity of elections systems, which are managed by state and local officials, spiked after the U.S. intelligence community pointed to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections and subsequent disclosures by DHS that the Russians attempted to hack election systems in a number of U.S. states prior to election day last November.
After Tuesday’s hearing, a DHS official told Defense Daily via email that the new task force “will improve our coordination with and support to our stakeholders, including state and local governments running the nation’s election systems. It will focus efforts on improving communication with state election officials in order to help states strengthen their election infrastructure.”