April 09, 2018

Maryland Congressional Delegation Urges Gov. Hogan to Take Necessary Steps to Secure State Election Security

Lawmakers Tout $7 Million in New Federal Grants to Protect Maryland’s Election System from Cyberattacks

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, along with Congressmen John Sarbanes, Steny Hoyer, Elijah E. Cummings, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Delaney, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin (all D-Md.), sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan, pressing him to allocate the required state matching funds to improve Maryland’s election infrastructure ahead of the 2018 midterms.

“As you know, the Maryland State election system was the target of an attempted intrusion by hostile actors during the 2016 election,” the Members wrote. “While there is no indication the perpetrators were successful in breaching the state election network, federal officials have made clear they expect continued assaults on our election infrastructure in 2018 and beyond. In response, we in Congress have acted swiftly to better understand the threat and to appropriate the resources needed to harden our election systems.”

The Members continued: “With the 2018 midterm elections fast approaching, we hope you work quickly and collaboratively with the Maryland State Board of Elections to ensure Maryland has access to this critical federal funding.”

The Members requested a response from Governor Hogan by April 20, 2018.

See below for full text of the letter.

* * *

April 9, 2018

 

The Hon. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.
Governor
State of Maryland
100 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland

Dear Governor Hogan:

We write to encourage you to quickly take the necessary steps to access the $7,063,699 in federal resources recently made available to the Maryland State Board of Elections by Congress for the purposes of enhancing election technology and instituting election security improvements.

As you know, the Maryland State election system was the target of an attempted intrusion by hostile actors during the 2016 election.[1] While there is no indication the perpetrators were successful in breaching the state election network, federal officials have made clear they expect continued assaults on our election infrastructure in 2018 and beyond.[2] In response, we in Congress have acted swiftly to better understand the threat[3] and to appropriate the resources needed to harden our election systems.[4]

Specifically, Congress - as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141) - directed an additional $380,000,000 in Election Security Grant funds to be dispersed to state election officials immediately. Maryland is entitled to receive $7,063,699 based on the grant formula. To access these funds, Maryland is obligated to allocate a modest 5 percent state-provided match – or $353,185 – to be provided within two years of receiving the federal funds. We urge you to dedicate the requisite state matching funds promptly.

The federal funds must be deployed for purposes of election security and are to be used consistent with the requirements of Title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252) (HAVA). As you know, the State Administrator of Elections is responsible for the deployment of HAVA funds. Recognizing that the State Administration ultimately has the clearest insight into the election-related security needs, we are hopeful these funds be used for the following much needed security upgrades and investments to the Maryland State election system:

  • Creation of Chief Information Security Office for the Maryland State Board of Elections to oversee all cybersecurity efforts, liaise with appropriate officials to monitor and respond to credible threats and to maintain information security and technology for the Maryland State Board of Elections;
  • Implementation of comprehensive post-election audit and recovery systems;
  • Expansion of two-step security verification for all state and local election systems; and
  • Comprehensive best practices and ongoing security training for state and local election officials to harden election system defenses.

We are confident that the State Administrator will, as she has done with prior HAVA funding, create a short-term and long-term plan to prioritize the needs of the State to enhance election technology and institute election security improvements.

With the 2018 midterm elections fast approaching, we hope you work quickly and collaboratively with the Maryland State Board of Elections to ensure Maryland has access to this critical federal funding. To that end, we request a response from your office by April 20, 2018 detailing the State’s plan to allocate the required matching funds.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,



[1] Sari Horwitz, et al., DHS tells states about Russian hacking during 2016 election, Wash. Post, (September 22, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/dhs-tells-states-about-russian-hacking-during-2016-election/2017/09/22/fd263a2c-9fe2-11e7-8ea1-ed975285475e_story.html

[2] Miles Parks, Russian Threat To Elections To Persist Through 2018, Spy Bosses Warn Congress, National Public Resources, (February 13, 2018) https://www.npr.org/2018/02/13/584672450/intelligence-leaders-testify-about-global-threats-in-senate-hearing

[3] The Congressional Task Force on Election Security recently released a comprehensive report detailing the vulnerabilities of our election system and outlining several reforms that states should embrace. See Congressional Task Force on Election Security, Final Report, (February 14, 2018) https://democrats-homeland.house.gov/sites/democrats.homeland.house.gov/files/documents/TFESReport.pdf

[4] Dustin Volz, U.S. spending bill to provide $380 million for election cyber security, Reuters, (March 21, 2018) https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fiscal-congress-cyber/u-s-spending-bill-to-provide-380-million-for-election-cyber-security-idUSKBN1GX2LC