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DHS says ‘all systems look green’ for Super Tuesday election security

Federal government better prepared for this balloting day than any in U.S. history, top cyber official says

A woman with her daughter casts her vote in 2016 at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas.
A woman with her daughter casts her vote in 2016 at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As millions of voters go to polling stations in 14 states and one territory in presidential primary contests, a large group of federal, state, and local officials monitoring for any interference or anomalies has not seen anything unusual yet.

“All systems look green right now across the country,” a senior official of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency or CISA told reporters around noon on primary day, which is also known as Super Tuesday. “We have been in touch with a number of states” to deal with various situations including “some technical glitches.” But he added that “everything has been resolved.”

The states voting today are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia. American Samoa and Democrats Abroad also hold contests today to choose the candidates for the November 2020 election.

CISA, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, along with officials the FBI, the National Security Agency, the U.S. Cyber Command, the Defense Department, the Secret Service, and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, are monitoring the elections from a command center in Arlington, Va.

“We are better prepared for this single election than any other election in American history,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “All aspects of the federal government are working together.”

The joint command and communications center allows CISA and other federal officials to rapidly connect with state and local officials who conduct elections, if any technical or other glitches pop up, the CISA official said.

The federal and state teams are also monitoring disinformation and misinformation campaigns by foreign adversaries intended to confuse voters and also will look for any active cyberattacks on election computers and voting machines.

“Americans must also remain aware that foreign actors continue to try to influence public sentiment and shape voter perceptions,” the federal agencies said in a joint statement issued Monday. “They spread false information and propaganda about political processes and candidates on social media in hopes to cause confusion and create doubt in our system. We remain alert and ready to respond to any efforts to disrupt the 2020 elections. We continue to make it clear to foreign actors that any effort to undermine our democratic processes will be met with sharp consequences.”

Disinformation campaigns intended to cause divisions among Americans is an ongoing activity and the joint federal-states team is not seeing anything unusual as yet on Tuesday, the official said.

[Seven things to watch for on Super Tuesday in the battle for Congress]

U.S. intelligence agencies already have briefed Congress that Russia is interfering in the 2020 presidential contest with the goal of helping President Donald Trump. The Washington Post has reported that Russia also is trying to help Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the primary election season.

Trump has disagreed with the U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment and has dismissed acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, and appointed the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Richard Grenell, to take his place. Trump has said he intends to rename Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, as the top spy official. Ratcliffe previously withdrew from consideration a week after Trump named him for the position in August 2019 after senators of both parties indicated they would be reluctant to confirm him.

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