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Cybersecurity and Elections

election-cybersecurityForty members of the National Assocation of Secretaries of State (NASS) serve as their state's designated chief election official, overseeing the conduct of elections according to law. The security and integrity of the voting process is central to this role, which includes routine cyber preparedness and contingency planning for election systems. Providing administrative and technical support for local election officials is also an important part of this work.

NASS is collaborating with a diverse array of state, federal and private sector stakeholders to encourage information-sharing and sound policymaking to assist states with these efforts.

Built-In Safeguards to Our Democracy

As federal officials repeatedly emphasized during the November 2016 presidential election cycle, state and local autonomy over elections is our greatest asset against malicious attacks and systemic fraud.  The structural integrity of our electoral process contains some built-in safeguards:

  • HIGHLY-DECENTRALIZED: There is no way to disrupt the voting process in any large-scale, meaningful way through cyberattacks because there is NO NATIONAL SYSTEM to target.

  • LOW-CONNECTIVITY: State and local election systems do not rely on a great deal of Internet connectivity for their function. For example, voting machines - where actual votes are cast - are not networked and are not connected to the Internet. COMING SOON: FAQ on Election Cybersecurity

  • CHECKS AND BALANCES: The process is highly-localized and designed to foster transparency and participation from from end to end. 

DHS Critical Infrastructure Designation for Elections

On January 6, 2017, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson established a new role for the federal government by designating election infrastracture as critical infrastructure, which DHS interprets to include, "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 Overview of Critical Infrastructure   

Related Federal Alerts/Announcements

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