Cybersecurity

House bill would keep election systems 'critical'

Electronic voting 

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would further solidify state election systems as U.S. critical infrastructure, fund security upgrades for those systems and tap the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology for security standards.

Those protections, said bill co-sponsors Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) in a joint statement, are needed to safeguard elections from interference.

The lawmakers introduced the Securing America's Future Elections Act on March 16, saying the protections are necessary "in light of the widespread Russian interference in the 2016 elections."

The bill, they said in the joint announcement, would protect U.S. election systems by permanently classifying them a key component of critical infrastructure. DHS classified them as critical infrastructure in January.

That designation has rankled some states since then because they say that they're not sure what the designation means.

Congress has been interested too.

In a March 7 letter, ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised questions about what the designation means for states and how systems can be secured against future intervention by foreign actors.

Under the proposed legislation, the critical infrastructure designation would apply to storage facilities, polling places, vote tabulation locations, voter databases, voting machines and other systems that manage the election process. 

The measure would also provide funding to upgrade cybersecurity standards for voting systems, including the systems' operating software, as well as protections in the manufacturing process for system components. It would rely on collaboration between NIST and DHS to create basic cybersecurity standards for private companies contracted to work on elections systems in the U.S.

The bill would also require all electronic voting machines to have a corresponding paper ballot and require the Election Assistance Commission to randomly audit five percent of each states' ballots, while also reauthorizing the EAC for 10 years.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.