Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Cybersecurity Experts Push Biden to Establish Presidential Commission to Boost Trust in Elections

After a Volatile 2020 Election Cycle, marred by Unsubstantiated Claims of Widespread Voter Fraud, a Group of Experts is Recommending that President Biden form a Commission to boost Americans' Confidence in Elections and to Propose ways to Increase Security by 2022.

The Alliance for Securing Democracy and Center for Democracy and Technology, in a New Report first shared with The Cybersecurity 202, wants Biden to form such a Commission by Executive Order.

They envision a Six-Month period for the Commission to hear from a Variety of Stakeholders, including Local Election Officials and Cybersecurity Experts, and Recommend ways to Improve U.S. Election Administration and Faith in the Results.

“There's a serious crisis of trust in American democracy right now and it's going to take time to study these problems,” says Report Co-Author William Adler, Senior Technologist in Elections and Democracy at the Tech Group Center for Democracy and Technology.

The Commission would take a close look at how the Pandemic has Changed Voting in America. Voters shattered Records for Early Voting in 2020, largely due to the significant Expansion of Mail-in-Voting spurred by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

An Election Commission could be key to figuring out what Elements of the Expansion Election Officials should Keep and Build on for 2022, says Co-Author David Levine, Elections Integrity Fellow at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a Bipartisan Initiative Housed within The German Marshall Fund of the United States. An important part of that Process would be Examining how an Increase in Early Voting Changes the Cybersecurity Landscape for Elections, Adler says.

“Cybersecurity is not an endpoint. There's a constant need to reevaluate the landscape and reevaluate the threats,” Adler says. “You need to always stay multiple steps ahead of your adversary. So it's a constant discussion that we need to be having, especially given the damage that an actual successful attack could have.”

The Biden Administration has already called for a Full Intelligence Assessment of Russia's Alleged Interference with the 2020 Election, and is Monitoring the Ongoing Threats from Domestic Terrorists spurred by False Claims of Election Fraud.

The Recommendations for the Commission build off a similar Presidential Commission established by President Obama in 2013 that Issued several Recommendations to Improve Voting Access and Voting Technology. Obama established his Presidential Commission on Election Administration by Executive Order in March of his First year in Office.

Experts hope Biden will follow a similar Timeline. “One of the things that we recognize is that if we are to have a comprehensive report that takes steps toward restoring trust in democracy at this critical juncture, particularly for the midterm elections, time is of the essence,” Levine says.

A Biden Commission would have to bridge that Trust Gap. “One of the things that made the [Obama commission] successful was that they found a lot of fertile middle ground,” Levine says.

Levine and Adler say One area where Republicans and Democrats could find Consensus is a Focus on Elevating Trusted Sources of Election Information to Combat Domestic and Foreign Misinformation.

Democrats have already started introducing Election-related Legislation and have more Bills in the works. As New Chair of the Rules Committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has vowed to make Voting Security and Access "key priorities," she said. "I'm hopeful that there are some good election reforms that may gain more traction in the next Congress,” Levine says. "But even without Congressional Involvement, the Commission could make Important Improvements. There's a lot that Congress can do, but there's also plenty that the states and local officials can do as well," Adler says.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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