The head of the U.S. intelligence community announced the creation Friday of a new government position created to counter ongoing threats to election security.
Daniel R. Coats, President Trump’s director of national intelligence, said he appointed Shelby Pierson to serve as the nation’s first election threats executive, or ETE.
“Election security is an enduring challenge and a top priority for the IC,” Mr. Coats said in a statement. “In order to build on our successful approach to the 2018 elections, the IC must properly align its resources to bring the strongest level of support to this critical issue.”
The ETE will serve as the director of national intelligence’s top adviser on threats to elections and related security matters, according to a news release announcing the role.
She will also “coordinate and integrate all election security activities, initiatives, and programs across the IC and synchronize intelligence efforts in support of the broader U.S. government,” the release said.
Ms. Pierson served as the intelligence director’s crisis manager for election security during the 2018 midterm elections and has involved in the intelligence community for more than 20 years, the announcement said. Mr. Coats said she was the most qualified person “to lead this critical mission.”
In addition to creating the new advisory position, Mr. Coats also ordered the various government agencies and departments that make up the nation’s intelligence community to each appoint a person to lead their election security efforts and liaison with the ETE. He has also established a new intelligence community Election Executive and Leadership Board, led by the ETE, to “serve as the principal vehicle for IC-wide coordination and focus on election threats,” according to the news release.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s announcement about the creation of the new position came as members of Congress make strides on Capitol Hill this week to take steps meant to protect the U.S. electoral process. Bills advanced Wednesday in the House and Senate would allow the government to sanction foreigns who interfere in U.S. elections and bring federal criminal charges against hackers who attack voting systems, respectively.
Both the House and Senate bills are among several proposals introduced in response to federal intelligence and law enforcement officials concluding that Russian operatives tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, including military officers accused of attacking election infrastructure and internet trolls blamed with amplifying misinformation on social media.
Republicans and Democrats briefed on election security by top administration officials last week said afterward that the government is aware of “ongoing” threats to the 2020 race.