Over the past week we've seen increasing media coverage of the deteriorating state of our voting infrastructure. News outlets have rightfully been quick to highlight the dangers and magnitude of the situation, but we’ve heard little about practical solutions that can be implemented on a national scale -- until now.
Multiple sources are reporting on the Obama Administration’s planned assessment and response to this looming crisis. We feel this level of attention is long overdue and we look forward to the national discussion that we hope it sparks. And we stand ready to assist where called with subject matter expertise on solutions. While classifying election infrastructure as critical infrastructure is, we think, an important step, we appreciate it must be done with a plan and substance around the designation.
More importantly, if not tactically, the first question is, "What can we do about this November, if anything?"
We believe the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are well positioned to encourage common sense measures be put in place to make best efforts to protect our Critical Democracy Infrastructure for this fall’s election. However, durable solutions to threats will require a longer term commitment from local, state, and national stakeholders.
For almost a decade OSET has been working to solve the most intractable problems faced by thousands of election administrators across the country. These local election officials ("LEOs") are a vital and often under appreciated component of democracy administration. It is critical that we provide local jurisdictions with the guidance and support they need to address these challenge and fulfill their essential role in our society.
So, we could not agree more with the Secretary of Homeland Security’s assertion that “We should carefully consider whether our election system…is critical infrastructure, like the financial sector, like the power grid.”
In fact, we would take it a step further and declare emphatically that it is. However, we also appreciate that designating voting systems as critical infrastructure must be accompanied by specific ways to help state and local election officials improve the integrity of their systems.
There's nothing magic to designating election infrastructure as critical infrastructure. There has to be a specific plan and resources to actually make it happen. We look forward to, if asked, both developing interim steps for this November, and longer term solutions to protecting and preserving our critical democracy infrastructure.