A Democratic senator is looking for answers on whether the Trump administration will keep in place the designation of election infrastructure as “critical” and, if so, how the new administration plans to implement it. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) directed a number of questions at Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly in a letter this month in order to better understand the designation, which was made by his predecessor Jeh Johnson just weeks before Barack Obama left the White House. The designation was also made in timing with the release of the intelligence community’s report on Russian election interference, which assessed that Russian intelligence accessed elements of state and local electoral boards. In doing so, the Obama administration opened up election infrastructure—including polling places, vote tabulations locations, and technology such as voting machines and registration databases-–to federal protections upon request from state and local governments.
The move invited strong opposition from some state-level officials. The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) adopted a bipartisan resolution in February opposing the designation and has asked DHS to outline its legal parameters.
“Several state secretaries of state have raised questions regarding how DHS plans to implement this designation and what it means for their states’ independent authority to oversee elections,” McCaskill wrote in the March 7 letter, which was first reported by Politico on Wednesday.
McCaskill, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, asked for responses from Kelly to a number of questions by Friday in order to “better understand the designation and [his] plans for implementation.”