Election Assistance Commission to host summit on election security

Election Assistance Commission to host summit on election security
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An independent commission of the U.S. government is planning to host a summit this month on election security, data and other issues in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections. 

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has scheduled the event for Jan. 10. It is sure to delve into the issue of cybersecurity of election systems, which has become a hot topic following Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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According to an advisory issued by the EAC on Wednesday, the event, which is open to the public, will feature a keynote address from Christopher Krebs, a top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security is taking the lead on helping states shore up their digital voting infrastructure ahead of future elections as part of its critical infrastructure efforts.

Various state and local election officials from across the country will also participate in the daylong summit in Washington. Issues covered will include election security, voting accessibility and the use of election data, according to the EAC.

The meeting comes as state officials are clamoring for more resources to tackle election cybersecurity after revelations that Russian hackers targeted election-related data systems in nearly two-dozen states before the 2016 vote. 

While officials say the systems targeted were not involved in vote tallying, the developments have spurred concerns about vulnerabilities in voter registration databases and outdated paperless voting systems. 

Several secretaries of State have pushed for Congress to allot the remaining $396 million from the 2002 Help America Vote Act to states to build up their digital systems. Others have argued in favor of federal cybersecurity standards for election technology.

The EAC is an independent, bipartisan commission that was set up as a result of the Help America Vote Act to assist states in meeting requirements of the law. Members of the commission are also participating in the council convened by Homeland Security to focus on election security, which was formed as a result of the Obama administration’s decision to designate election infrastructure as critical.