The National Governors Association (NGA) elected six U.S.
states to attend a police academy to improve cybersecurity operations and
communications around elections.
The NGA chose Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada, and
Virginia through a competitive process to help them enhance the security of
elections in their states ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
“Participants from governors’ offices, election officials,
and state cabinet agencies will engage in dialogue across state lines and work
to enhance interagency communication and cooperation,” according to a press release. “NGA staff will offer technical assistance to help the states enhance
interagency communication and cooperation, promote engagement by governors’
offices, and facilitate the development of statewide response plans for attacks
on election infrastructure.”
The NGA’s efforts are just one of several ongoing
initiatives to improve election in 2019 before the presidential primary process
begins in January 2020. U.S. lawmakers are facing increased pressure to take
legislative action to enhance election security and address misinformation
campaigns spread via social media.
For instance, recent research from Symantec found that Russia’s
Internet Research Agency may have had more of an effect on the 2016 elections
than previously thought.
“In terms of sophistication, there is a group of us who are
looking at what we can do to protect ourselves in 2020,” said U.S.
Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) in an interview with Politico. “There’s a
whole half of [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s report that’s just about
straight old-fashioned Russian information warfare. We’ve been educating
ourselves so that we can push forward legislation to fill some of those holes.”
However, efforts to address election security may be handicapped from the partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government over the
winter—the longest in U.S. history.
“We are already behind schedule—even before the shutdown
started—it was going to be hard for states to do all the things that they
should do to secure elections for 2020, and a number of them—including Virginia—have
elections in 2019,” said Suzanne Spaulding, senior advisor for homeland
security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and
former undersecretary for the national Protection and Programs Directorate at
the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “Losing four weeks in that effort is