With just about a month left before the polls open in New Jersey and Virginia for gubernatorial elections, the Department of Homeland Security is racing to vet state officials who have applied for the ability to receive classified briefings and other information related to potential cyber-intrusions into election systems, people familiar with the matter tell CyberScoop. In August, the DHS began reaching out to chief election officials in every state to begin the process of obtaining clearances. While the nominees for these clearances are usually the secretary of state or similar high-ranking office-holders, some supporting staff have also sought clearances. The processing for each of these applications varies by person and as a result, there’s no average wait time. Over the last several months, however, DHS has been able to issue “interim” clearances when necessary within 30 days of an application, officials told CyberScoop. Final clearance approvals are taking much longer, the officials said.
People familiar with the matter say there are officials in Virginia and New Jersey who are still waiting for a decision just 31 days before Election Day.
New Jersey Chief Technology Officer Dave Weinstein said that state leaders in New Jersey are able to adequately receive information about hacking operations because many already own clearances, but he also noted that there were individuals outside of upper management who had requested clearances ahead of the Nov. 7 election but had yet to be approved.