Homeland Security wants control over state election security

  • 1 September 2016
  • NormanL
Homeland Security wants control over state election security

With news that at least two states had their elections systems hacked, the Department of Homeland Security is looking for ways it can take over security for the entire country's election system:

Even before the FBI identified new cyberattacks on two separate state election boards, the Department of Homeland Security began considering declaring the election a "critical infrastructure," giving it the same control over security it has over Wall Street and the electric power grid.

The latest admissions of attacks could speed up that effort possibly including the upcoming presidential election, according to officials.

"We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.

"There's a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure," he said at a media conference earlier this month hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

DHS has a vital security role in 16 areas of critical infrastructure and they provide a model for what the department and Johnson could have in mind for the election.

DHS describes it this way on their website: "There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof."

A White House policy directive adds, "The federal government also has a responsibility to strengthen the security and resilience of its own critical infrastructure, for the continuity of national essential functions, and to organize itself to partner effectively with and add value to the security and resilience efforts of critical infrastructure owners and operators."

Considering the Department of Homeland Security is also responsible for overseeing the TSA, we're not exactly thrilled by the idea of them tackling election security (nevermind the federalism issues at stake).

But there is a much simpler solution to a federal power grab: using paper ballots.

Not that paper ballots are a panacea. They can be stolen, altered, lost...but they cannot be hacked, and the information attached to them (identifying you, the voter), cannot be swiped, and then sold on the black market.