On Wednesday Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, and Harry Reid sent a letter to Todd Valentine of the National Association of State Election directors.
The leaders of Congress said “the states face the challenge of malefactors that are seeking to use cyberattacks to disrupt the administration of our elections” and urged the association to work with the Department of Homeland Security and “public and private sector resources” to secure the election system. They also called for designating the election system as critical infrastructure.
In August the Department of Homeland Security director Jeh Johnson said the government “should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid.”
“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 added.
Johnson made his remarks after Obama ordered the CIA’s Foreign Denial and Deception Committee to investigate the hacking of voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. The Illinois hack occurred in late July. It brought down the state’s voter registration for 10 days and compromised data on as many as 200,000 registered voters. The Arizona intrusion was less significant. It allegedly introduced malware into the voter registration system but data was not stolen.
Neither hack endangered the voting system or attempted to influence the election.
Blame for the attacks was immediately affixed to Russia and became part of a larger propaganda campaign to convince the American people Vladimir Putin and the Russians are attempting to sabotage the election.
There is, however, no evidence Russia is engaged in an attempt to influence the election. The FBI admitted it has no idea who is responsible.
Despite this, NBC reported the “consensus among U.S. intelligence analysts is that Russia is seeking to undermine confidence in the U.S. system, using the hacks into the Democratic National Committee, state election systems and other targets that have yet to be made public, as part of a larger campaign.”
Johnson weighed in on election system cyberattacks prior to the Illinois and Arizona intrusions. “We should carefully consider whether our election system, our election process, is critical infrastructure like the financial sector, like the power grid,” he said.
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.
The comments drew sharp criticism.
“That confirms what another high-level source who attended a White House meeting last week said – that DHS officials admitted they had no evidence of any ‘credible threat’ of a cyber-attack,” Hans von Spakovsky wrote for the Conservative Review on August 17. “But designating the nation’s election system as ‘critical infrastructure’ under a post 9/11 federal statute may be a way for the administration to get Justice Department lawyers, the FBI, and DHS staff into polling places they would otherwise have no legal right to access, which would enable them to interfere with election administration procedures around the country.”
The Democrats have already interfered with the election system. In July a WikiLeaks email dump revealed there had been a plot to smear Bernie Sanders and to hand the Democratic nomination to Clinton. Moreover, there was collusion between the DNC and the establishment media to undermine Sanders.
More directly, during the California primary independent voters were disenfranchised. A grassroots organization, Watch The Vote, collected complaints to show a civil grand jury the various ways the election was rigged. Additionally, according to a CBS investigation, votes were cast in Southern California by dead people.
“What it does is every single vote that’s cast by a dead voter actually cancels out a vote of a lawful voter cause if they voted for one candidate and you voted let’s say for another, your vote got canceled out,” said Ellen Swensen of True the Vote.
Jeh Johnson and the government should not be looking at Russia, but the Democrats and others documented to have manipulated the vote.