State election officials in the nation’s capital for a conference received classified briefings on the cybersecurity of election systems from officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the intelligence community and law enforcement, according to official readouts of the meetings. A DHS account of the briefings for members of the National Association for Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors stated they “focused on increasing awareness of foreign adversary intent and capabilities against the states’ election infrastructure, as well as a discussion of threat mitigation efforts.” Not only did DHS talk with secretaries from all 50 states, the agency briefed the newly formed, private-sector, industry-centered Sector Coordinating Council for the Election Infrastructure Subsector.
That group had met previously in December, a DHS spokesman told FCW, but adopted its official charter at the meeting over the Presidents Day weekend.
The events also included a Feb. 15 meeting of the Government Coordinating Council for the Election Infrastructure Subsector that formed last October in the wake of mounting evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 elections. The 27-member GCC is made up of three representatives from the federal government and 24 representatives from the Election Assistance Commission, NASS and state and local election officials from around the country.
NASS’ Director of Communications Maria Dill Benson told FCW in a Feb. 20 email that her organization’s “top priority … is to improve communication between DHS and state and local election officials. We see all of these meetings and briefings as a positive step forward.”