Securing Elections

Who Oversees the Elections Process in the U.S.?


Forty members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) serve as their state's designated chief election official, overseeing the conduct of elections according to law. Ensuring the integrity of the voting process is central to this role, which includes cyber preparedness and contingency planning, as well as administrative and technical support for local election officials.  

Governors and state CIOs/CISOs also play a part in election security, particularly where state emergency management or incident response planning is involved, and state legislators make policy and budget decisions that affect election office policies, staffing and resources.


As our nation's leaders repeatedly emphasized during the November 2016 presidential election cycle, state and local autonomy over elections is our greatest asset against malicious cyber attacks and systemic fraud. Our highly-decentralized, low-connectivity voting process has many built-in checks and balances to safeguard its structural integrity. Given the complexity of the process, election officials have unique insights on cybersecurity and elections. However, on January 6, 2017, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security established a new role for the federal government in securing elections by designating election infrastructure as critical infrastructure (DHS Overview of Critical Infrastructure).

Since the designation, state and local election officials and the federal government have worked diligently to create a productive relationship. NASS and its members have opposed the designation, raising questions and concerns about the potential federal overreach into the administration of elections – a state and local government responsibility. While NASS remains vigilant about possible federal overreach, we have worked together to ensure that the designation functions in a positive and effective way. Thus, we have chosen to actively focus on improving communication between the states and the federal government to achieve our shared goal of securing elections. In particular, we have utilized the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council (EIS-GCC), to open communications channels and guide future collaborative election security endeavors.

NASS Election Cybersecurity Infographic



RELATED: NASS Letter to Twitter on Preparing for 2020 (March 2019) | NASS Letter to Facebook on Preparing for 2020 (March 2019) | NASS President Op-Ed: States Are Working to Protect Your Votes (October 2018) | NASS President Op-Ed: States are Diligently Preparing for Midterm Cyber Threats (July 2018) | EIS-GCC: An Open Letter to American Voters (March 2018) | NASS Letter to Congress: Proactive Election Cybersecurity Initiatives by Secretaries of State (October 2017) | About Cybersecurity and Our Elections (September 2016) 

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