The Role of Chief State Election Officials in Election Security:
A majority of 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 cybersecurity and contingency planning, as well as providing administrative and technical support for local election officials.
All states consider themselves a target for bad actors and are working continuously to protect elections from cyber and physical threats. NASS members work with private sector companies, the National Guard, the federal government, universities, researchers and others to secure their state’s elections systems.
Governors, state Chief Information Officers, and other state agencies also play a part in election security, particularly where state emergency management or incident response planning is involved. State legislators make policy and budget decisions that affect election office policies, staffing and resources.
Elections as Critical Infrastructure:
While remaining a state and local responsibility, on January 6, 2017, elections were designated as critical infrastructure by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NASS members initially voted to oppose this designation over concerns about possible federal overreach, however, Secretaries of State and other election officials have worked with the federal government to ensure this designation functions in a positive and effective way.
The Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council (EIS-GCC) was established in October 2017 to open communications channels and guide future collaborative election security endeavors. Secretaries of State were integral in the Council’s establishment and serve as key members, providing invaluable information on state election procedures and structures. 2020-2021 NASS EIS-GCC representatives can be found here.
A major accomplishment of the EIS-GCC has been the establishment of the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC) through which state and local election officials share threat information and have access to cybersecurity resources.
Additionally, in February of 2018, the Election Infrastructure Subsector Sector Coordinating Council (EIS-SCC) was formed to provide private-sector election industry stakeholders, whose systems are used by state and local governments, a forum to interact and share information on critical infrastructure security and resilience for election infrastructure.
NASS and its members also work with other federal agencies in their task to secure elections infrastructure including, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
Below you can find more election security information.