With the 2020 national election cycle on the horizon, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., convened a hearing Wednesday to examine the how the United States was working to secure its elections. The hearing, broken into two panels, heard from senior Federal election officials, as well as state and local election officials. During the first half of the hearing Christopher Krebs, director of the newly minted Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), stressed that election cybersecurity is on the upswing. However, the second half of the hearing held a slightly different tone, with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla declaring that “our democracy is under attack.”
Noah Praetz, the former director of elections for Cook County, Ill., concurred with Padilla and said “As election officials, we must accept the conclusion of the intelligence community–our elections were attacked and are vulnerable. And while enemy hostile probes of our news and influence systems appear to have been more successful than those on election administration, we have to expect the attacks will evolve. We, as election administrators, must defend our section of the line–by securing all elements of our voting infrastructure.”
He further stressed the role election security plays in public confidence in the United States’ democracy.
“One job of an election administrator is to conduct elections so that losing candidates accept the fact that they lost fairly,” Praetz said. “Anything that hinders our ability to do that decreases confidence in the system. And undermines our ability to bestow legitimacy–not just victory.”