Recently, Congress has been focusing on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and election cybersecurity by holding hearings. Lawyers Democracy Fund (LDF) has been covering these hearings on its blog and Twitter feed.
Last week, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a hearing on oversight of the EAC, much of which focused on the EAC's role in supporting state and local election officials' cybersecurity efforts and the EAC's need for more resources to carry out its mandate under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The Republican members of the EAC communicated the EAC's mission clearly:
Chairwoman McCormick: Election security continues to be focus. EAC takes seriously the fact that voter confidence is enhanced when we take seriously and respond to misinformation campaigns, efforts to breach election systems, etc. EAC played integral role in post-2016 response.— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) May 15, 2019
Commissioner Palmer: EAC's job is to help states administer electoral systems, make them better, mitigate concerns of voter confidence that may be triggered by reports of fraud or cyber intrusion. https://t.co/9aVOmFiv4P— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) May 15, 2019
Likewise, yesterday's Committee on House Administration EAC oversight hearing focused on election cybersecurity. Ranking Member Rodney Davis continued to be a leader in supporting the states' primary role in administering elections and responding to the House Democrats' misrepresentations of the reality of election administration:
Ranking Member Davis: We must approach election security on three fronts: 1. examine the past, 2. see what states are doing, and 3. see what federal government's role should be. EAC is key on all three fronts. https://t.co/EzRWv2yYeF— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) May 21, 2019
Ranking Member Davis: "Voter fraud does exist, and we must ensure that states are prepared against it." https://t.co/EzRWv2yYeF— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) May 21, 2019
Ranking Member Davis: I want to hear from the witnesses where we should draw the lines to protect our federalist system. Must work together across partisan lines to make keeping elections secure and free from interference our #1 priority. https://t.co/EzRWv2yYeF— Lawyers Democracy (@lawyersdf) May 21, 2019
Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Subcommittee on National Security held a wide-ranging hearing on election security, campaign finance, and social media issues. Christopher Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an appointee by President Trump, and Republican EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick consistently highlighted the importance of federal-state information sharing, how the federal government's role is to assist, and the states' primary roles in election administration:
Election Assistance Commission Chairwoman Christy McCormick highlighted the EAC’s central role in assisting the states in responding to cybersecurity threats:
. . . The EAC works alongside federal partners to leverage their subject matter expertise to augment the EAC’s whole-of-elections perspective with specialized products. The EAC works with these partners to produce EAC products, help other agencies better develop products for election stakeholders, and help our stakeholders understand and integrate these products into the context of their array of responsibilities. These partners include the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the United States Postal Service.
Christopher Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, had this to say in his testimony:
We will remain transparent as well as agile in combating and securing our physical and cyber infrastructure. However, we recognize that there is a significant technology deficit across [state, local, tribal, and territorial] governments, and state and local election systems, in particular. It will take significant and continual investment to ensure that election systems across the nation are upgraded and secure, with vulnerable systems retired.
As LDF concluded: "By working together to share information without usurping the states’ primary role in administering elections, federal entities such as the EAC and DHS can help the states secure elections while still maintaining the protection of our varied and decentralized election systems." Thanks to the leadership of Republican appointees in both these entities and Republicans in Congress, these federal entities are assisting the states on a voluntary basis instead of federal bureaucrats seizing control of election processes, as the Democrats would prefer and as they attempt to do in H.R. 1.