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Published on January 10th, 2017 | by Admin

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Federal Government Makes Move for Control Over State and Local Elections

Editor’s Note: This is an official release from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The DHS acted under Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 21.

Homeland Security designation worries election officials.

DENVER, Jan. 10, 2017 — Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has joined his peers across the country in expressing disappointment with the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to classify election systems as “critical infrastructure” without the promised collaboration process.

One concern is that the classification may give the federal government more control over elections, which are run by states and local governments. The designation was made last Friday in the waning days of President Obama’s administration. (See attachments.)

“Secretaries of state from both parties asked DHS to work with us to engage in a collaborative process. Homeland Security promised to do that last fall,” Williams said. “Disappointingly, it acted unilaterally.”

Denise Merrill, Connecticut’s secretary of state and president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, addressed the issue during a media call Monday.

"U.S. Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson’s announcement of a critical infrastructure classification for election systems is legally and historically unprecedented, raising many questions and concerns for states and localities with authority over the administration of our voting process,” she said. “We are not entirely sure exactly what it means yet. But I think it does indeed define a new role for the federal government in elections and that I think holds concerns for all of us.”
Merrill also pointed out that there is “no credible evidence of hacking, including attempted hacking of voting machines or vote counting” in any state during the 2016 presidential election.

“State and local autonomy over elections is our greatest asset against malicious cyber attacks and manipulation. Our decentralized, low-connectivity electoral process is inherently designed to withstand such threats,” she said.

The National Association of Secretaries of State will discuss the situation at its winter conference in Washington, D.C., in February. Williams is the western region vice president of the group.




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