House Speaker Paul Ryan faced Democratic criticism Thursday after choosing not to renew the term of a federal agency head who has helped lead the charge on securing elections from hackers. Matthew Masterson, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, will depart once the Senate confirms a successor, three people familiar with the situation told POLITICO. His four-year term as a commissioner expired in December, but he has stayed while Ryan contemplated whom to recommend to President Donald Trump as a nominee for the seat. Ryan has decided that Masterson won’t be on the list. Another commissioner was already scheduled to take the chairman’s slot on Saturday, but Masterson could have remained as a commissioner if he were renominated. … “This is insanity,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, an election security expert who is the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology. “Matt is extremely capable and has been a champion of more secure and better elections the entire time he’s been on the EAC.”
… The chairmanship switches between commissioners of different parties every year. Hicks, the sole remaining Democrat, will become chairman on Saturday, agency spokeswoman Brenda Bowser Soder said.
But Masterson’s impending departure is bringing new scrutiny to the remaining Republican commissioner: McCormick has expressed skepticism about the urgency of election security and sharply criticized the Department of Homeland Security for labeling elections as “critical infrastructure” — similar to hospitals or banks — at the end of the Obama administration. Numerous states and Republicans were hesitant about the designation, worried that it was a harbinger of federal regulations, a charge DHS has emphatically denied.