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CISA Preparing for Election Day ‘Operational Disruptions’

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Agency Finds No Credible Election Security Threat While Mobilizing National Support

CISA Preparing for Election Day 'Operational Disruptions'
CISA officials said the agency wants to provide “much information as possible” to its state and local election partners. (Image: Shutterstock)

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency launched several real-time initiatives to provide technical and cybersecurity support for state and local offices as millions of Americans cast their ballots nationwide Tuesday, according to senior officials from the nation’s cyber defense agency.

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CISA established an Election Day operations center at its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, in addition to a virtual cyber situational awareness room for state and local partners, allowing officials from jurisdictions across the country to share and receive updates about various operational risks.


A senior CISA official told reporters Tuesday morning that the agency has not identified specific or credible threats to the election, adding: “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to see anything go wrong today.”


“We should expect to see some examples of standard operational disruptions, whether it’s from Mother Nature or human error,” a senior official said, noting that issues “can come from a range of origins, whether it be cyber, physical or operational disruptions.”


CISA previously set up a variety of no-cost election security resources for state and local offices, including a toolkit of free services and tools as well as cyber hygiene scans and physical security assessments for polling places in underfunded communities.


Ahead of Election Day, several secretaries of state and election administrators from Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Tennessee urged Congress to provide additional federal cybersecurity funding and resources to bolster election security. The officials testified that resource constraints threaten election security nationwide and that local offices suffer from inadequate physical security measures and outdated voting equipment.


CISA said it has deployed more than 650 field staffers to support its state and local partners and that it was working with the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative – the agency’s flagship public-private partnership – to monitor possible risks to election operations.


“All of this is about sharing and maintaining the best situational awareness possible and providing the support and guidance as rapidly as possible,” a senior CISA official said. “The goal here is really to provide as much information as possible, especially out to our partners in the field.”


The off-year election cycle is not expected to yield the same number of voters who flock to the polls during a presidential election, though major races will be decided in states such as Mississippi, where Democrats are aiming to unseat incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, as well as Ohio, where voters will decide whether to codify abortion protections and the right to reproductive medical treatment.



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