BATON ROUGE, La. - Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler blasted the Obama Administration Tuesday on the heels of a Homeland Security decision to designate the election systems of all 50 states in the U.S. as "critical infrastructure" and is calling on President-elect Donald Trump to undo that action.
On Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a news release to announce the move which he said is designed to bring added federal protections to voting systems.
“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,” a statement released by Johnson said.
Johnson conceded that a number of local and state officials oppose the decision based on concerns of federal overreach. Count Schedler as one of that number.
“As immediate Past-President of NASS (the National Secretaries of State), I am appalled at the deafness of the Obama administration, but not surprised,” Schedler wrote in his letter to Mr. Trump. “The outgoing President is consistently governed by his own sense of priorities regardless of the opinions of the American people. It has been obvious and even acknowledged by Secretary Johnson in his announcement that there is much trepidation among the states concerning the critical infrastructure designation yet he forged ahead during the last minutes of the administration.”
According to "The Hill," the new designation will cover storage facilities, polling places, and centralized vote tabulations locations used to support the election process, as well as information and communications technology like voter registration databases, voting machines and other systems used to manage the election process and report results.
Schedler’s letter followed a strong response from the National Association of Secretaries of State which read in part, “U.S. Homeland Security Jeh Johnson’s announcement of a critical infrastructure classification for elections systems is legally and historically unprecedented, raising many questions and concerns for states and localities with authority over the administration of our voting process. Americans need to know that the November 2016 election—the voting process itself—was not hacked or subject to manipulation in any way. No credible evidence of hacking, including attempted hacking of voting machines or vote counting, was ever presented or discovered in any state. State and local autonomy over elections is our greatest asset against malicious cyberattacks and manipulation. While we recognize the need to share information on threats and risk mitigation in our elections at all levels of government, as we did throughout the 2016 election cycle, it is unclear why a critical infrastructure classification is now necessary.”
Schedler says he and other secretaries will continue to discuss the issue and possibly consider a resolution in response to the critical infrastructure designation during the NASS Winter meeting to be held in Washington D.C. in mid-February. Additionally, Louisiana citizens who oppose the designation are encouraged to visit www.protectlouisianaelections.com to sign a petition in support of his efforts.
“I have yet to hear of a single secretary of state from either side of the aisle who is in favor of this designation,” said Schedler. “We all feel railroaded by this announcement and have serious concerns about the way in which this announcement was delivered and its timing. When it comes to election integrity, I am not going to let the federal government have the keys to our secured election system unless they can better articulate their intentions"