Krebs Says O’Brien Will be an Ally in 2020 Election Security

As the 2020 election cycle revs up, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs said today that he believes new National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will take security seriously and will allow CISA a great opportunity to continue improving cybersecurity efforts.

Krebs hasn’t gotten the chance to meet the new National Security Advisor, but has his first talking point lined up for when they do.

“I’m going to ask him what more we can do on cybersecurity together,” Krebs said at the CISA Cybersecurity Summit, adding that he’s excited to get to work with O’Brien.

In terms of election security needs, Director Krebs noted that most states are trying to get to a system of paper ballot backups, but mentioned that he will leave it up to Congress on whether to establish Federal legislation on the matter.

“Article one, section four of the Constitution says states control the time, place, and manner of elections, but if the Federal government’s going to play in this space, we have to be dependable partners,” Krebs said.

Krebs offered that in terms of funding, whether that comes from the Federal government or the state, Secretaries of State and state election directors primarily want consistency so that they can set their “budgeting clock” and won’t disrupt state budget processes.

While Krebs did not promote legislation on paper ballot backups, he did say that most states are moving toward physical ballot copies and that the voting-systems market is already shifting toward providing backup options.

“I look at it from an audit-building perspective,” Krebs said. “I like physical. I want the receipts, basically. I think it’s most effective if you have the ability to go back and touch something really tangible to understand what the process was and what the outcomes were,” he said.

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