The U.S. Homeland Security Department’s council on election cybersecurity and its industry-led partner association issued a joint statement late Thursday declaring the 2020 U.S. presidential race “the most secure in American history.”
“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the groups said. In every state with close results, paper records exist of each vote cast, they added, allowing officials to recount each ballot by hand if necessary.
The joint statement was issued by the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council, convened in 2017 after U.S. election systems received a “critical infrastructure” designation from DHS, and its partnering Sector Coordinating Council, added later to boost collaboration with relevant companies, such as voting machine makers.
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too,” the groups said.
The statement, released by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a DHS component, followed a report Thursday that the senior-most government employee responsible for the nation’s cybersecurity — as well as combating disinformation around the 2020 election — believed he was going to be fired by President Trump.
CISA Director Christopher Krebs, the government’s top cyber official, had reportedly told associates that he expected to be forced out, according to Reuters.
Krebs, who is is widely known in Washington as a credible and apolitical voice on cybersecurity matters, had “drawn the ire” of the White House, Reuters said, after CISA launched a website called Rumour Control designed to help voters “distinguish between rumours and facts on election security issues.” The facts laid out by the site have at times conflicted with baseless claims issued by President Trump, the Trump campaign, and its surrogates.
Under Chris Krebs’ leadership, CISA has been a trusted source of election security information. If Donald Trump fires him, it will suggest Trump is preparing to spread lies about the election from a government agency. https://t.co/OEinu9kjmp
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 12, 2020
The White House fired two top DHS employees this week as part of an ongoing purge of government officials viewed as “lacking complete loyalty” to the president, the Washington Post reported. Bryan Ware, a senior policy aide at CISA, is one of those employees.
CISA’s Rumour Control website has sought to debunk rumours, for example, that have been propagated by Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and Sen. Matt Gaetz, one of his top allies on the Hill. Both men steered followers online to a Breitbart story about “dead people” on Pennsylvania’s voter rolls, with Gaetz tweeting: “The dead vote appears to have swung overwhelmingly for Joe Biden.”
Rumour Control website bluntly notes that people routinely die and that they are moved off voter rolls as soon as possible. Election integrity safeguards, such as signature matching and database checks, “protect against voter impersonation and voting by ineligible persons.” “Taken out of context,” the site says, “some voter registration information may appear to suggest suspicious activity, but are actually innocuous clerical errors or the result of intended data practices.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham also claimed on Fox News that evidence existed of dead people voting in Pennsylvania. But a Republican co-chair in charge of Philadelphia’s elections, Al Schmidt, said Wednesday those claims “have no basis in fact at all.” (Trump later attacked Schmidt on Twitter, calling him a “so-called Republican.”)
One Republican voter has been charged with trying to apply for a mail-in ballot under his dead mother’s name. Another deceased individual cited by Trump advisor Corey Lewandowski as proof of dead people voting turned out to be a woman who filled out her ballot before dying.
According to Reuters, the White House has demanded that CISA edit or remove information from the Rumour Control website.
In a tweet Thursday night, Sen. Ron Wyden called Krebs a “trusted source of election security information,” and said if the president fired him it would suggest, “Trump is preparing to spread lies about the election from a government agency.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, called the U.S. president’s “cleaning house” at CISA “dangerous.”
“The President’s refusal to put country before ego is a national security threat. A disturbing number of national security positions are already led by ‘acting’ officials,” Thompson said.