On Friday, over the acknowledged opposition of many state and local election officials, the Department of Homeland Security designated election systems nationwide as “critical infrastructure.”
The designated systems include state and local “storage facilities, polling places, and centralized vote tabulations locations used to support the election process, and information and communications technology to include voter registration databases, voting machines, and other systems to manage the election process and report and display results on behalf of state and local governments.”
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson claims the designation “does nothing to change the role state and local governments have in administering and running elections” and that “cybersecurity assistance” will only be given to state and local election officials “who request it.”
Many remain skeptical.
Election expert John Fund posits that the Obama administration is using the Russians as an excuse to expand federal power over elections, given that “the decentralized U.S. election system makes large-scale hacking almost impossible,” Johnson’s own admission that “there is no credible threat of a successful cyberattack on the voting and ballot-counting process,” and this administration’s propensity for power grabs.
It looks all too much like an excuse to seize more power from state authorities, and it resembles the administration’s other moves on election law: filing lawsuits against popular voter-ID laws, blocking states from requiring a proof of citizenship when people register to vote, and refusing for eight years to enforce federal laws that require states to clean up their voter rolls if they accept federal money for their operations.