Posted by Ilona Trommler
By PAUL BEDARD
Amid new claims from Republican Donald Trump that the fall election may be "rigged" against him, the Obama administration is considering taking a step toward nationalizing the cyber security of the process, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
"We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid," Johnson told a media breakfast Wednesday.
"There's a vital national interest in our election process, so I do think we need to consider whether it should be considered by my department and others critical infrastructure," he said at the breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
DHS plays a vital security role in 16 areas of critical infrastructure. DHS describes it this way: "There are 16 critical infrastructure sectors whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof."
A White House policy directive adds, "The federal government also has a responsibility to strengthen the security and resilience of its own critical infrastructure, for the continuity of national essential functions, and to organize itself to partner effectively with and add value to the security and resilience efforts of critical infrastructure owners and operators."
Johnson did not identify any current problems with security of the elections, but did note that there are thousands of localities that conduct elections differently.
"There's no one federal election system. There are some 9,000 jurisdictions involved in the election process," he said.
"There's a national election for president, there are some 9,000 jurisdictions that participate, contribute to collecting votes, tallying votes and reporting votes," he said.
Without giving many details of what his department of the administration had in mind, he did say that in the short term he would likely reach out to the 9,000 jurisdictions with advice on how to conduct security of the election.
"I'm considering communicating with election officials across the country about best practices in the short term," he said, adding with emphasis, "soon."
And, he added, there were "longer term investments" coming.
Laura J Alcorn