by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
All 50 state secretaries of state are urging the Trump administration to rescind a last-minute Department of Homeland Security directive calling state election systems “critical infrastructure.”
Many state officials fear this is the first step toward a federal takeover of state-run elections, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
While deep political discord may be found on other issues, state secretaries — who oversee all election machinery — appear completely united against the former administration’s attempt to insert the federal government into state-run elections.
Then-Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson surprised and outraged state election officials with his Jan. 6 action, just two weeks before President-elect Donald Trump was to assume the presidency.
Johnson tried to portray his move as part of the Obama administration’s effort against Russian government hacking of Democratic Party emails during the presidential campaign.
But state officials retort that election machines and the infrastructure are not connected to the Internet and therefore are immune to cybersecurity attacks.
Incoming DHS Secretary John Kelly indicated in written testimony prior to his confirmation he was troubled by Johnson’s directive.
“The notion that DHS can or should exercise some degree of influence over state voting systems is highly controversial and appears to be a political question beyond the scope of DHS’ current legislative cyber mandates,” Kelly wrote.