Four state, local and federal officials briefed members of Congress Tuesday on the need to increase cybersecurity around voting infrastructure, a task that grows more urgent for state and local governments as the November midterm elections approach. While the nearly three-hour hearing before the House Oversight Committee was frequently sidetracked by representatives’ diversions into topics including the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, federal agencies’ search rankings and President Donald Trump’s latest tweets, the witnesses also got a few words in about how ready election officials are to repel cyberattacks and how well states are partnering with the federal government to make voting more secure.
Many states have undertaken measures to overhaul the security of multiple aspects of how they conduct elections, including replacing ballot machines, implementing new security procedures on computer systems and signing up for regular assessments from federal agencies. With most primaries wrapped up and the general election less than four months away, those upgrades are about to be put to the test.
The officials testifying Tuesday tried their best to explain their preparedness and their needs. In her opening testimony, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver set the stage by quoting Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s speech earlier this month to the National Association of Secretaries of State in Philadelphia, in which Nielsen noted that “election security is national security.”