Witnesses at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on July 20 provided lawmakers with feedback about how local election officials are viewing security information being supplied to them by the Federal government, along with the need to train local officials on ways to defeat misinformation.
Elizabeth Howard, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, talked about how officials with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) are working to provide information to local election security officials to help them keep voting systems secure.
“I think that Federal officials and CISA officials in particular have recognized that they are trying to calibrate the amount and the quality of information that is being provided to our local election officials,” Howard said. “Representatives at multiple meetings that I’ve attended with election officials proactively asked for feedback about … the quantity and quality of the content that they’re receiving” from Federal authorities, she said.
Howard went on to explain the need to properly train local election officials on how to recognize and deal with disinformation connected with elections, especially as the ranks of local officials have thinned and officials have stepped away from their election roles due to instances of harassment.
“What we’re seeing across the country are election officials who are deciding to leave the profession,” she said.
“For example, five out of Arizona’s 15 counties now have new election directors this cycle. Six of Georgia’s most populous counties have new election directors this cycle,” Howard said. “This creates the potential for more disinformation because the people taking the retiring election officials’ place are not going to have the same level of experience.”
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose discussed the need to share information with the public about how “white hat” hackers have been successful at helping to improve election security, and thus to bolter election integrity.
“One thing that that I’ve struggled with and have wanted maybe some more help from the Federal government on is being able to share our successes,” LaRose said.
“When things go wrong, the public generally will know about it quickly,” he said. “But we haven’t always been able to share our successes, and the public should know when we had a day where good guys won and the bad guys lost.”