Friday, January 13, 2017

EAC Commissioner Questions Extension of DHS' Power to Elections

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it was designating election systems as "critical infrastructure," thereby bringing elections under the purview of DHS.  EAC Commissioner Christy McCormick raised serious questions and concerns about this extension of federal power over elections:
1. The scope and effect of this action is unknown. There was not a thorough discussion or review of what the designation means. . . . The so-called benefits of a critical infrastructure designation provided by DHS appear no different than those that have already been provided. . . . I am still unconvinced that a declaration of critical infrastructure status is necessary for DHS to help the States with security efforts, because we’ve already seen them do so.
2. This action politicizes elections. There is a reason that the Founding Fathers gave the authority of conducting elections to the States. There is a reason that when Congress set up the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), they made it a bipartisan, independent agency and gave it no regulatory authority. Our nations elections should not be handled or governed by a partisan branch of the Federal Government. The party that occupies the White House singularly controls the DHS and other Federal agencies in the Executive Branch.
Pick which party you want driving the security of our elections--are you comfortable with the other party doing so? It's important that we maintain the decentralized nature of our elections so that our voters and citizens can maintain faith and confidence that our elections are run freely and fairly, and that they can depend on the integrity and accuracy of the outcomes. 
3. The designation creates a layer of non-transparency and unnecessary Federally controlled bureaucracy. . . . 
[4.] The technical explanation for this designation is insufficient. . . .  
[5.] The critical infrastructure designation opens the States to legal, financial and privacy liabilities. . . . 
[6.] The process leading up to this designation has been disingenuous, at best. . . .
Commissioner McCormick concluded by requesting that President-elect Trump reverse the action and provide for productive, non-instrusive federal-state cooperation on election security:
Elections officials asked for more time, conversation, and discussion and a thorough understanding of the scope and benefits of the critical infrastructure designation. That request was flat out denied by the unilateral action of Secretary Johnson. I ask that President-elect Trump and his designated DHS Secretary General Kelly immediately reverse this unjustified and unsupported critical infrastructure designation, as well as Executive Order 13694, review the actions of DHS, provide a non-intrusive way for our intelligence community to provide information and resources to our election administrators, and leave the conduct of elections to the States as mandated in our Constitution. Thank you. 
Thank you, Commissioner McCormick, for standing up for election administrators across the country and fighting this federal intrusion into election administration.

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