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Testimony on Election Infrastructure before the House Committee on Homeland Security

Gowri Ramachandran, senior counsel, testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security’s subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation about election infrastructure and threats to our democracy.

Published: January 20, 2022

On Janu­ary 20, 2022, Gowri Ramachandran, senior coun­sel, test­i­fied before the U.S. House of Repres­ent­at­ives’ Commit­tee on Home­land Secur­ity’s subcom­mit­tee on Cyber­se­cur­ity, Infra­struc­ture Protec­tion, & Innov­a­tion about the threats that the elec­tion sabot­age move­ment is posing to elec­tion infra­struc­ture and ways to bolster elec­tion infra­struc­ture against these threats.

The heroic efforts of many, and in partic­u­lar state and local elec­tion offi­cials commit­ted to free and fair elec­tions, gave us a safe and secure elec­tion in Novem­ber 2020 with historic turnout. Long­stand­ing best prac­tices, such as the provi­sion of emer­gency paper ballots, paper poll­book backups, and poll­work­ers on standby, took long hours and plenty of finan­cial resources to imple­ment during this elec­tion with added pandemic-related costs. Carry­ing out these prac­tices demon­strated a commit­ment by elec­tion offi­cials to ensure eligible voters would not be turned away, even in the case of malfunc­tion­ing equip­ment or a poten­tial cyber­at­tack.

Main­tain­ing a secure elec­tion infra­struc­ture will require effort from many parts of soci­ety. Congress can lead the way in this effort, by provid­ing resources for states and local juris­dic­tions to imple­ment meas­ures that protect against insider threats, such as video surveil­lance of elec­tion equip­ment and back­ground checks for person­nel. Congress should also incentiv­ize elec­tion vendors’ adop­tion of best prac­tices for person­nel and supply chain secur­ity, by requir­ing that federal funds spent on elec­tion vendors go to those who agree to abide by these secur­ity meas­ures, and by requir­ing risk-limit­ing audits in federal elec­tions. Unlike sham partisan reviews, these would be true elec­tion integ­rity improve­ments.

Our elec­tion infra­struc­ture is strong, as shown by the 2020 elec­tion, but it is facing a grow­ing anti-demo­cracy threat from within. Congress should protect demo­cracy from that threat by invest­ing in true elec­tion integ­rity meas­ures.