Elections play a vital role in a free and fair society and are a cornerstone of American democracy. We recognize the fundamental link between the trust in election infrastructure and the confidence the American public places in basic democratic function. A secure and resilient electoral process is a vital national interest and one of our highest priorities at the Department of Homeland Security.
We are committed to working collaboratively with those on the front lines of elections – state and local government, election officials, federal partners and the vendor community – to manage risks to election infrastructure. We will remain transparent as well as agile to combat and secure our physical and cyber infrastructure against new and evolving threats.
US Electoral Process
U.S. Electoral Process Infographic (386.1 KB PDF)
What is Election Infrastructure?
Election Infrastructure includes but is not limited to:
- Voter registration databases and associated IT systems
- IT infrastructure and systems used to manage elections (such as the counting, auditing and displaying of election results, and post-election reporting to certify and validate results)
- Voting systems and associated infrastructure
- Storage facilities for election and voting system infrastructure
- Polling places, to include early voting locations
Election Infrastructure does not include:
- Political action committees
- Or any other non-state or local government election related group
Election infrastructure was designated as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure as a subsector under the Government Facilities sector in January 2017. Under the designation, DHS --- through its National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) – provides an array of services that state and local election officials can utilize to reduce both cyber and physical risk to their election systems and facilities. The designation allows DHS to provide services on a prioritized basis at the request of state and local election officials. The designation also brings the structure and support of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) to bear on behalf of the election infrastructure community. NIPP advances critical infrastructure security and resilience through partnership and innovation.
Election Security is a Partnership
Securing election infrastructure is a partnership between federal, state and local government and private sector entities. DHS collaborates with federal departments and agencies, state and local government, election officials and other valued partners such as the National Association of Secretaries of State, National Association of State Election Directors, International Association of Government Officials, National Association of Election Officials and the Elections Assistance Commission. In partnering with these officials through both new and existing engagements, DHS and the involved partners both in the public and private sector are enhancing efforts to secure election systems.
State and Local Officials Roles and Responsibilities
America’s election processes are governed and administered by state and local election officials in thousands of jurisdictions across the country who:
- Manage and secure election infrastructure on a day-to-day basis
- Reduce risks and ensure the integrity of elections at the state and local level
- Administer statewide voter registration databases, required by HAVA
- Assist local election officials by providing training courses or materials on running elections in the state
- Provide a process for testing and certifying voting equipment for use in the state
- Disburse funds for the procurement of updated voting equipment and improvement of election administration procedures
DHS Roles and Responsibilities
- Share timely, actionable threat information
- Provide cybersecurity assistance, by request
- Foster robust processes for coordination between the election community and Homeland Security officials
- Develop and help deploy sensors to detect malicious activity, by request
Benefits of states and DHS partnership among election infrastructure
- Rapid identification of imminent threats that prompts a timely understanding of threat
- Quicker communication of identified threats that enables agile defense
- Cost-effective security force multipliers for all participants
Our Election Services
NPPD’s services are available at no cost to the state and local government and officials. All services we provide are available upon request and are strictly voluntary, NPPD only provides services when requested by state and local election officials.
Key areas of our services include the following:
- Cybersecurity Advisors and Protective Security Advisors, regionally located personnel who offer state and local governments, as well as private sector partners, immediate and sustained assistance, coordination, and outreach to prepare for and protect from cyber and physical threats.
- Cybersecurity Assessments, such as Cyber Hygiene Scanning, Risk and Vulnerability Assessment, and Cyber Resilience Reviews.
- Detection and Prevention, such as Cyber Threat Hunting and Enhanced Cyber Services.
- Information Sharing and Awareness, such as National Cyber Awareness System alerts and advisories, and the Homeland Security Information Network portal.
- Incident Response, provides 24/7 intrusion analysis in response to cyber incident.
- Training and Career Development, including the Federal Virtual Training Environment (FedVTE) cybersecurity training, and National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies Catalog.
- Election Infrastructure Security Resource Guide
- Glossary of commonly used cyber terminology (Note: this glossary is based on standard definitions, and is not intended to be technically comprehensive)
Government Coordinating Council
The Government Coordinating Council (GCC) enables local, state, and federal governments to share information and collaborate on best practices to mitigate and counter threats1 to election infrastructure.
Specifically, the EIS GCC provides for interagency, intergovernmental, and cross-jurisdictional coordination within the Election Infrastructure Subsector and between this subsector and other sectors identified in Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-21 on “Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience.” The EIS GCC is composed of primarily election official representatives from across various levels of government as appropriate to depict the operating landscape of the Election Infrastructure Subsector.
Sector Coordinating Council
The mission of the Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) is to advance the physical security, cyber security, and emergency preparedness of the nation’s election infrastructure, in accordance with existing U.S. law. This mission will be accomplished through voluntary actions of the infrastructure owners and operators represented in the Council, as set forth in Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-21 and related authorities. The EISCC will serve as the principal asset owner interface with other private critical infrastructure sectors as well as with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the state, local and tribal governments (SLTTs), and the Election Infrastructure Subsector Government Coordinating Council (GCC).