The new Homeland Security Secretary said Tuesday his department will not overturn the last-minute decision by previous leadership to designate the U.S. election system as “critical national infrastructure,” despite calls from some state officials to reverse the designation. “I would argue that yes, we should keep that in place,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly told the House Homeland Security Committee during his first time testifying as a member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Last month, just days before leaving office, outgoing leadership at DHS blindsided state and local officials by designating the election systems as “critical national infrastructure.” At the stroke of a pen, the property of 8,000 election jurisdictions across the country was added to a special DHS list of 16 “sectors” of vital U.S. national industry, ranging from banking and telephones to water and sewage systems.
“I believe we should help all of the states, provide them as much help as we can, to make sure their systems are protected in future elections,” said Kelly, a retired Marine major general. Previous Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s designation followed signs last summer of intrusions by alleged Russian hackers into some state’s election systems.
Kelly’s remarks are sure to surprise many state and local officials, who told CyberScoop they felt blindsided by the decision, and some of whom had already asked the new administration to overturn it.
Full Article: New administration will keep ‘critical’ label on election systems.