House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) is urging the Obama administration to act quickly to secure the nation’s election system amid allegations of Russian hacker interference, rejecting concerns that the move would be a federal takeover over a system managed at the state and local level. “We can’t afford to let a foreign government attack our country – our election system,” McCaul said today at the Internet Security Alliance conference on Capitol Hill. “We can’t afford to let a foreign government attack our country – our election system,” McCaul said today at the Internet Security Alliance conference on Capitol Hill. McCaul referred to a “debate going on within the administration” over designating the national election system as critical infrastructure, which would allow the Department of Homeland Security to provide assistance under a national program for a coordinated response to risks to critical industry sectors.
The chairman implored the administration to end that debate and move forward to “call it for what it is and have a plan” to secure the upcoming elections. McCaul said classified briefings he has had indicate the “FBI is doing attribution” and that “they have come to certain conclusions that I can’t talk about.”
“We don’t know what the motivation is,” according to McCaul, other than to “undermine the integrity of our electoral process.”
DHS officials as recently as Tuesday publicly indicated that the administration is not likely to redesignate the election system as “critical” before this year’s election.