Editorials: Long wait for federal help to secure the 2018 election | San Francisco Chronicle

One of the most pressing questions ahead of the 2018 elections is whether the states will be able to guard their voting infrastructure from computer hackers, foreign espionage and other security breaches. Unfortunately, many states may not have enough time to get the assistance they need. State officials and some congressional lawmakers are deeply concerned about long wait times for the Department of Homeland Security’s most thorough security screening. Some states are reporting estimated wait times of up to nine months. The service is an intensive, multiweek probe of the entire system required to run an election. If some of the states that have requested it won’t be able to get it until just weeks before this November’s elections, they won’t be able to fix flaws that could allow cybervandals to hijack everything from election offices’ computer systems to voter registration databases.

The office of California’s secretary of state, Alex Padilla, says it has received security assistance from the Department of Homeland Security and isn’t affected by the nine-month wait. “That’s something (the wait) that has to be improved heading into 2018,” said Sam Mahood, Padilla’s press secretary.

Adding that Padilla had been “frustrated” in the past by the failure of DHS to share information about the 2016 election’s cybersecurity problems, Mahood said that California has been working on securing its own systems.

“We continue to conduct regular security assessments, following industrywide best practices,” Mahood said. “And because Congress has failed to pass funding for new voting systems, we’ve asked the Legislature to pass a bond for new voting systems in our counties.”

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