President Donald Trump says allegations of Russian hacking in the 2016 election are a hoax — but his own agencies are working with states to beef up their cybersecurity, heeding the U.S. intelligence community’s warning: Moscow will be back in 2018. The Department of Homeland Security, state and local election officials, the FBI, and a federal election council have joined forces to work through hacking scenarios and root out weaknesses in state election systems. The project, in which states will have access to grants to upgrade election technology and tools to run simulations to examine holes in their systems, is a test for how well officials can work together to ward off potential election-related threats ahead of the midterm elections next year and the presidential election in 2020, experts said.
“If we get some evidence that something is happening, then we can do something about it. This a big step forward,” said David Becker, an election expert at the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research.
However, some states are wary of the feds’ reaching into an area that has traditionally been the province of the states — holding elections — and some experts also question whether something in which participation is voluntary can have any real impact.
The 28-member federal-state group, called the Election Critical Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, will hold its first public meeting this month.