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electionlineWeekly — January 11, 2018

Table of Contents

 II. Federal-State Updates

Fallout continued this week from President Donald J. Trump’s decision to disband the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI).

Elections officials from across the country weighed in on the decision including: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Members of PACEI spoke out as well including New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, Wood County, West Virginia Clerk Mark Rhodes, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell from Ohio and Alan King from Alabama.

In his decision the president said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would take over the investigation, but a report from Reuters said that DHS’ election security unit has “no immediate plans to probe allegations of electoral fraud.”

Even though there seem to be “no immediate plans” to probe potential election fraud, a spokesperson from DHS said this week that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach would not be advising the agency when it does investigate voter fraud claims.

As for what data PACEI had already collected from states, the White House says that data will be destroyed and not turned over to DHS.

However, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap continues to pursue the paperwork that a judge had previously ruled he should have. Dunlap has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to intervene to secure access to the documents. According to the Portland Press Herald, the request also asks the court to temporarily block the commission from transferring any of the documents to DHS while it considers its final decision.

In non-PACEI news, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) said this week that the Senate Intelligence Committee will soon issue recommendations to help states thwart efforts to hack election systems.

"I do think there's a real sense of urgency," Warner said in an interview with USA TODAY. "The one thing we do know with certainty is that Russian interference in our elections did not end on Election Day 2016."

Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., also has indicated that he expects the committee to provide security advice to states early this year.

During a meeting held by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Bob Kolasky, the acting deputy undersecretary in Homeland Security’s cyber unit, acknowledged a backlog of risk and vulnerability assessments which would have had states waiting up to nine months for the assessments.

“I am here today to tell you we have the ability now to meet all the state requests that we have received,” Kolasky said during a keynote address. We want all the rest of the states to sign up, and if they do we believe we will be able to do those risk and vulnerability assessments onsite before the midterm elections. That is a significant shift of our own resources.”