Top election officials from across the country grappled with a delicate question this weekend: How do you tackle the threat of election interference, and be transparent in doing so, without further eroding the public’s trust in the voting process? “I’m always trying to straddle the line between sounding the alarm on this issue and being alarmist,” said Steve Simon, Minnesota’s Secretary of State. The four-day annual meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State, which featured a new classified briefing from national intelligence officials, came at the end of an extraordinary week. On Tuesday, the nation’s top intelligence officials told Congress to expect Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond. Three days later, the Justice Department’s Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, filed an indictment against 13 Russians, which laid out in granular detail the size, scope, and complexity of a covert Russian disinformation campaign in 2016.
… This weekend, national intelligence officials gave a classified briefing to the secretaries about “increasing awareness of foreign adversary intent and capabilities against the states’ election infrastructure,” according to a joint statement from the FBI, DHS, and the Director of the Office of National Intelligence.
“I do think the biggest lesson learned from DHS and the federal government in 2016 is that it’s not helpful to pass the information down if you’re passing it down to the wrong people,” said Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the Secretary of State of New Mexico, who said that communications with the federal government are drastically improved.