A total of 33 states and 36 local governments asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to assess their election systems for vulnerabilities during last year’s White House race, and a handful of others have requested federal assistance in the months since President Trump entered office, according to a newly released document.
“Prior to the election, DHS offered voluntary, no-cost cybersecurity services and assistance to election officials across all 50 states. By Election Day, 33 state election offices and 36 local election offices requested and received these cyber hygiene assessments of their internet-facing infrastructure,” John Kelly, Mr. Trump’s then-secretary of Homeland Security wrote in a June 13 memo to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released Wednesday and first obtained by CNN.
“In addition, one state election office requested and received a more in-depth risk and vulnerability assessment of their election infrastructure,” the letter said.
Others ultimately followed suit after the DHS designated election systems as critical infrastructure subsector in January near the end of former President Obama’s term in office, added Mr. Kelly, who left his role as DHS chief last week in place of becoming Mr. Trump’s new White House chief of staff.
“Following the establishment of election infrastructure as critical infrastructure, several state and local governments requested new or expanded cybersecurity services from DHS,” he wrote in last month’s letter. “Specifically, an additional two states and six local governments requested to begin cyber hygiene scanning (one state has, however, ended its service agreement). DHS also received one request for the risk and vulnerability assessment service,” the letter said.
Mr. Kelly’s comments were sent in response to a letter received in March from the committee’s ranking Democratic, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, requesting information about the critical infrastructure designation.
There are “no plans to make any changes to the designation of election infrastructure as a critical infrastructure subsector,” he replied.
Russian hackers attempted to penetrate election systems in 21 states during last year’s race, according to the Trump administration. The U.S. intelligence community has accused Moscow of waging a multifaceted hacking campaign targeting election systems and political entities in a bid to sway last year’s election in Mr. Trump’s favor, but has failed to find any evidence suggesting Russian actors manipulated any polling results. Russia has denied responsibility.