Citing increasingly sophisticated cyber bad actors and an election infrastructure that’s “vital to our national interests,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Friday that he’s designating U.S. election systems critical infrastructure, a move that provides more federal help for state and local governments to keep their election systems safe from tampering.
“Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure, in fact and in law,” Johnson said in a statement. He added: “Particularly in these times, this designation is simply the right and obvious thing to do.”
The determination came after months of review and despite opposition from many states worried that the designation would lead to increased federal regulation or oversight on the many decentralized and locally run voting systems across the country. It was announced on the same day a declassified U.S. intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.