tv Election Security CSPAN February 12, 2018 11:46pm-1:17am EST
c-span.org/mac landmark cases. >> talking about doubled and abilities in the voting system. this comes as the homeland security department pushback on the media reports claiming that russian hackers penetrated some u.s. voter rolls before the 2,016th elections. this is hosted by the center for american progress. but after good afternoon everyone. i am thrilled to have you all
here for the most important discussions we are going to have this year which is on the voting integrity and a system in which we all rely on for our democracy. in fact, the topic of today's address is about the trust we have in the voting system which is central and fundamental to everything that we rely on for the government. government. ouon the system and be in fear election is under assault. it sounds extreme but it is true despite the clear statements from the leaders on both sides of the aisle that russia attempted to interfere, president trump continues to dismiss such evidence as fake news. this underscores that now more than ever before protecting the
security is a matter of national security and the states stand on the front lines. the midterms are over me nine months away and the presidential elections are fast approaching. if we want to safeguard from attacks, we must understand the steps that every state must take to strengthen their infrastructure. that's why today's cap is proud to report the current state of security in all 50 states along with the district of columbia. our report covers several categories of best practices including paper ballots, minimum cyber security standards for the voter registration systems and post election audits and it concludes while many have taken strides that we acknowledge him every state remains vulnerable.
23 states got a c. and received either a d. or an f.. so, we have a lot of work to do to protect our democracy. the report also recognizes the hard work of state and local officials despite significant constraints in funding personality and technology. we hope this report will fuel the conversation around the vital importance of security and to provide local leaders the resources they need. just consider this one simple fact. congress can supply the funding needed to modernize and conduct detailed threat assessments. i hope leaders from both parties will embrace the urgenc increasf
making greater investments in the infrastructure. states need help right now. you can download a full version of the website, and i want to say a special shout out to the people that have been working on this for many months, danielle, elizabeth kennedy and daniel for their outstanding work. today we are thrilled to welcome a lineup of guests to help amplify and discuss the findings. and as you notice i'm thrilled i will be sitting down with the homeland security j. johnson former secretary at the front of the obama administration effort to for infiltrating and later my colleague will lead a panel. now i have a great honor of introducing the keynote speaker, senator amy klobuchar. senator klobuchar has led us on so many vital issues she's
cosponsored important elections with senator langford and we are happy to have her here to talk about why it's important for congress to act and why this issue should be at the forefront of all of our conversations in the democracy. senator klobuchar? further dreamers and the hope that we can stop people from being deported is a pretty good goal. and also for the work that you've done it's good to see secretary johnson i began my day with the portrait unveiling.
i didn't want to believe honestly. they did a beautiful job and now i see secretary johnson who i enjoyed working with and admired. i read an interview from last week where on the topic he said 2016 is a wake-up call and before the democracy is attacked again. so i want to thank him for 15 seconds and go from there. this comes from my state. we are known as a good government state and we are proud of our election laws. from minnesota we like to be above average.
it's the election day registration and have been cuttinhas beencutting edge in as and we have a lot of voter turnout in the country in 2016, 81% of the registered voters turned out as you could imagine that. but i did with senator lindsey graham is to make sure that it isn't a democratic or republican issue. this isn't a partisan issue, it is about america. so, when we learn what happened in 2016, that is un-american to have this russian interference which is a minnesota nice term for criminal activity.
since we know that the right to free and fair elections is the heart of america is when you leave today remember that simple concept. walker revealed himself with his one-party and candidate and the next time it's going to hit the other one. think of it in the bath blends and then number 266. that is the number of days left before the 2,018th election. a little more than nine months and we still cannot ensure american that they are secure. it is unacceptable and at this point now it is on us. we know what happened in 2016. intelligence reports made clear that used covert cyber attacks come as the march, harmful propaganda and they did.
the department confirms russia launched cyber attacks against at least 21 state elections. we learned of a targeted at the officials into the american voting software company and in e voting systems in illinois in the information on the thousands oof the thousandsof voters thaty exposed. the national security officials sounded the alarm and they are saying that this is just the beginning. it's not just former obama administration officials. last week the secretary said that russia is already trying to influence the u.s. midterm elections. the cia director said that he has every expectation that russia will target the u.s. midterm elections. former president george bush said they made a project of turning americans against each other and that gets to the
divisiveness so many of the posts that you saw on social media. media. former directo director of natil intelligence james clapper said i believe now russia is emboldened to continue subject is in the future both here and around the world and to do so even more intensely. i could go on and on but we all understand again my point that current security officials that are appointed by you an handworr the trump administration. 36 days from now, the states that the russians packed into in 2016 will hold a primary for the midterm election. so why haven't we acted? this people in opposite corners of the boxing ring but in fact there doesn't seem to be the whale and it has to come from the people that voted in the election so here are six
solutions and all of them have bipartisan support. first, state steve need supporto protect the systems. we have a secretary of state or official heads here from virginia and colorado and they will tell you this. right now there are more than 40 states that rely on the system that are at least 10-years-old. i'm not telling any secrets here. the russians know this. think about this, ten years ago we were using flip phones. some senators still do, chuck schumer, but now we have smartphones that we update regularly. we need to protect ourselves and this was in a report issued by
the center for american progress. that is why senator langford and i along with terres and lindsey graham introduced this bill the secure elections act that will help bring the resources. in this amount of money it's 3% of the cost of one single aircraft carrier. and also, it makes clear that the federal homeland security officials can share secure information with state election officials and that is what was thrown up in the face of officials when they were not able to access the data because they were one of the first states that were hacked. so it creates a process and allows that to happen, and then the final thing is that it creates some requirements for best practices for auditing. if you have a number of states
that don't have backup paper ballots, you have no way to check if there is a hack. so that is the first thing, passed a bill like this and there's no reason it couldn't be done in the omnibus coming up in a few weeks. second, we need reliable measures in place when something goes wrong, and that is my third point. each state administers its own elections. it is a strength to have multiple states using multiple systems because it is harder to hack in to them. however it also makes it so you might have one that is weak and doesn't have enough to protect it. we saw this in 2016. they attempted to bridge the system of many states bu that we are only successful in one. many do not have reliable auditing procedures in place. as you know, you are not able to
check when something goes wrong. i think there's less than a dozen states were something like that that don't have the backup paper ballots. but that is something we have to fix. .. third dramatic dramatic moment were free at the picture of the woman who was in an ad with a text and the text was saying you could vote for hillary clinton by simply taxing this number and you didn't have to go to the polls. that's criminal. those were ads were showing up
on people's social media feeds. one example of this that i use at home because it's sometimes all these political ads. i heard this first-hand when i was at the munich security conference with senator mccain and we are in the are in a room with a norwegian prime minister. she told the story about how russia was getting angry at norway because they have been putting funding into their military at a higher pace. so russia started running fake news stories on russian tv about our way. one of the things they kept emphasizing was norway's economy had completely changed and that they had no agriculture and they didn't even have fruits or vegetables to give to their people or the prime minister of norway told us the story that all of these well-meaning russians who would watch this on tv and who had friends or relatives of norway came over to visit them with bags and bags of cucumbers and apples inferred because they believed the story
that there were no fruits and vegetables in our way. that's just an example of how convincing these ads can be. you can imagine how convincing they are in a political context. when in fact in the last election in 2016, $1.4 billion was spent on social media and they expect that that's a triple to go into the range of 4 billion, $5 billion. we have no idea but it's a place where the wild west governance. there are no requirements right now for disclaimers and there are no disclaimers for disclosures. that's why i introduced and i was so pleased that senator mccain company wants -- cosponsored with me the honest ads act. all it does is it takes the rules that are in place for print, for radio and tv and puts them in place for social media ads. we know this won't solve everything because this is about paid ads but there's absolutely
no excuse that we would have the same rules applied when all this money is migrating over to social media. the way this would work right now is that people can put up campaign ads and some of the social media sites with candidate ads will require disclaimer and will require that you keep it on file. but they are not doing it for issue ads. under federal law issues of national legislative importance are the things you see on tv all the time about any issue before congress whether it's energy, whether it's civil liberties. those ads that you see, they require that the tv station or the newspaper and the radio look at the ad make sure to disclaimer and disclose it to people. we don't do that on social media and what of the funniest answers i got at the hearing was one of the executives from a social media company said they couldn't do it because they couldn't figure out what those ads were.
unlike really because my radio station in deep river falls minnesota can figure it out. they can figure out what our ads are of international importance. this is not just about foreign powers. this is about a democracy because all the dark money and as will migrate to social media and they will flip up on your page for one second. there's not going to be me tracking unless they change it so it's more fundamental than our topic today on foreign interference. that is why we have to change this as well because otherwise you are going to have unlimited money going on that side and you will have propaganda coming in. as someone who runs for office who ran with very little money, i always like to joke when i first ran for money for office i did know how to raise money. and in my previous office he could only take $100, this is
true, for a county attorney in the off ears for many person. that was the limit so suddenly i'm running for u.s. senate with no money myself and that's why i feel so passionate about trying to even the playing field for our democracy. i did set an all-time senate record back then. i gave up trying to call nationally and i call everyone i knew in my life and i raised $17,000 from ex-boyfriends. that is a true story. [laughter] that is not an expanding base. the president pointed that out to my husband. in any case i really care about this idea of an evening -- even playing field when you have a foreign country trying to come in and influence races for candidates who have no money and are just relying on the fact that we have rules in place you don't have those rules in place on the social media market you don't have a chance. we must send a message that this behavior is unacceptable and this means getting those
sanctions that congress passed, 98 votes out of the senator something like that those sanctions should be taken seriously and it administrations should put them in place. that has not happened. i spent last year and the year before last on new year's eve 2016 right after donald trump had gotten elected with john mccain and lindsey graham and the baltic countries and lithuania latvia and estonia and ukraine on new year's eve and there we were with president poroshenko blizzards coming at us at the dark with all their troops. first of all i would get a picture me with mccain in the graham on new year's eve at midnight. which one do you kiss? there you are. these families where they have lost 10,000 people in ukraine fighting for their own freedom and for them to have america stands with them with everything everything. so that is why when russia sees
america's standing in these countries to mean something because they have tried this before. they have gone into these countries when estonia tried them remove a statue from the public square to a cemetery of a russian soldier the russians retaliated by shutting off their internet or when one of the countries invited members of the ukrainian parliament from crimea who were in exile to their 25th celebration of independence. when they invited them they got hacked. those are things that are happening right now. for our country to just let this go and not take action when we have been hacked into when we have had russia try to influence our elections is the opposite message and that's why the senate voted 98-2 for those sanctions. this administration has refused to implement them and it makes no sense to me because when we do that we are empowering russia
and announcing to the world that there are no consequences for foreign governments to interfere in american elections. finally we must understand the full extent of our control in our 2016 election. that's why my colleague senator cardin introduced a bill to establish an independent commission and i was the original co-sponsor that because i agreed and that is that we must examine exactly what went on in order to fix fix it fix it is the very same reason we must allow the investigation, whether it is director mueller's investigation or whether it's the work going on in the bipartisan work i emphasized in the senate intelligence committee we must allow those to go forward. in the end i envision a more 9/11 commission and we are not quite there yet where we can actually go back through it so we are able to an act just as we did after 9/11 policy changes to
respond to it. at the same time we allow these other investigations to go forward. all of these tools would help to secure our election. you look at the cybersecurity bill that i started out with this weekend and the one that puts the money into our state election system republican and democratic former national security officials support the policy. republican and democratic state and local officials secretaries report it. the head of the freedom caucus disc carrying the bill in the house mark meadows because they are so concerned that there's going to be a hack that they support the idea of our state election system. they are so afraid it's going to happen they are afraid it will federalize the election after it happens. you take your support where you can get it. that is what is happening. it's time to put politics aside
and come together to secure the future of our elections so whether you are a four-star general, fourth-grade teacher or computer engineer at foursquare this is an issue that unites us. i will end with the quote from joseph stalin. there's a reason for this. that is probably jarring the audience. in 1923 just as stalin than general secretary of the soviet communist was asked about a vote and a central committee of his party. stalin was unconcerned about the vote. after all he explained, he said who voted was completely unimportant. what was extraordinarily important in his words was who would count the vote and howl. so it is now 95 years later and so many times we are back at square one because that same idea and it doesn't really
matter who votes, they have tried to influence that but would really matters is who counts the vote in what the votes are. that's the exact philosophy we are saying and the exact actions we are seeing from russia again. they are trying to control not only who votes but who counts the votes and how. that is america's election infrastructure. we all know russia is not our only threat and other countries are going to be completely emboldened to do this as well. so to anyone who would block the bill, the bipartisan bill i just discussed at the worst happens in 2018 it is on you and it's not just russia. you will have to explain why we ignore doing something when we have all this money that's going into security and military defense and we put none of that into the cybersecurity defense would receive the new weapons that these countries are using it is on the people that are blocking that. remember the 2018 election is
the number 266 days away. this is a pivotal moment and how does the saying go? hack me once, shame on you, hack me twice shame on us. we know what they did and we know they will do it again. we have a solution and we must act so it's time to set our differences aside and get it done. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you so much senator klobuchar for that incredibly powerful message and your outstanding leadership. now it's a great privilege welcoming our next guest former secretary of the u.s. department of homeland security jeh johnson. during his remarkable tenure and the obama administration secretary johnson served as the primary architect for nations counterterrorism missions.
as as dhs secretary of veteran nations ever to defend the 2016 election from russian interference and since leaving office he continues to serve as an outspoken voice for the critical importance of strengthening our election securities and how critical it is for democracy. former defense secretary robert gates is called secretary johnson a man of great integrity and common sense. he has also called on the finest lawyer he ever worked with in government. we are absolutely thrilled that he is here to share his insights about what happened in the past and more importantly what we can do as a teacher. please give a warm round of applause to secretary jeh johnson. [applause] >> thank you so much again for being here and i want to thank senator klobuchar for her remarks on a whole variety of ways on the defense of our
democracy but just to zone in on the work of our reporter lets get your thoughts. in their recent reporting has shown how hard you worked in the last year in the obama administration to protect our election system from foreign interference. i would love to have you share with us the points you like the public to know about that effort and why you took it in why you thought it was so low. >> first neera thank you for having me here. nice to be back at the center for american progress with some of your friends. i came here when i was in office once just for a roundtable discussion and it was a great session. i have one story i want to tell before i answer questions about the u.s. senate. for senator klobuchar's benefit i was a college intern 40 years
ago and for a great man my senator daniel patrick moynihan. [applause] so one day when i was working i thought the senate was in recess and i was working in the mail room in the basement that day jeans and a t-shirt and i went up to the senator's office to deliver the mail in the dirksen senate office building. senators driver and i were walking out and he said to me i have an idea. let's take a ride on the senator's only elevator. we can't do that. we can do that. they are not around it's okay. it's fine. but i really don't think we should be doing this. we are standing at the elevator and i can point out to you the exact same elevator because i will never forget the moment.
he pushes the button and i'm standing in front of the double doors. the doors open and there is senator barry goldwater staring me in the face like this. i have a big afro-sideburns down to hear t-shirt and jeans. this is 1978. without batting an eye he said hello senator. [laughter] any way i want to compliment the center for american progress on this report. as far as i know it is one-of-a-kind. i have been talking it up with my various tv appearances. nbc this morning and jake tapper did not ask me about this. as far as i can see it as an object if sober example of where
we are on election cybersecurity. to get to the answer to your question in 2016 we saw and emerging intelligence picture of russian government attempts to infiltrate our democracy and the picture was pretty clear by late summer of 2016. the issue then became what to do about it. first and foremost and many of us in the administration including the president had to tell the american public what we saw. during the election season. though there was no dawa we had to do that the analogy i used in the situation room if i am in the issue of a public stock and i see a powerful manipulator trying to manipulate the price of my sought -- stock i had a
duty to tell the public but this was not something you just wake up one morning and put in a tweet. because the national security apparatus of our government was being asked to inject itself into an ongoing political campaign and might be perceived as taking sides. we might herself be perceived as putting our am on the scale for the election outcome and you had some saying the election was going to be. there are a lot of careful considerations. many say why don't you do it sooner or why didn't the president do it like every difficult national security decisions somebody says why did he do it and somebody says why didn't you do it this way and white dog you do it sooner. we did issue a statement in october of 2016 which i thought was going to be full banner above the fold news as foreign
superpower intervening in our democracy. didn't get the attention frankly that it should have because the same day we had the release of e-mails. we had a hurricane in florida and we had "access hollywood" in your call the question was how can he survive? he's finally crashed and burned in a statement was literally low the fold in the post in the times that day. wasn't until december after the election that the mainstream press came back and said hey the russians interfered in our election. but the effort really proceeded on two tracks. there was the hacking of the e-mails including the dnc e-mails but also ended my judgment equally if not more
troublesome this the scanning appropriate we saw around voter registration database and what dhs says it was now in 21 states. nbc did a report the other week in the big headline was they actually infiltrated and gained access to voter registration data and a handful of states. after that is not new news. i said in a public statement october 1, 2016 that russia gained access to several voter registration databases and that for the reasons reflected in this report is the direct threat to our democracy because, and this was my fear and 2016 a voter could show up, i'm sorry your name is not here and you are not registered to vote simply by altering a few letters in the name or deleting a list or something and when it comes
to our national election given the electoral college and given our policies where the vote for president really only comes down to five or six swing states the election outcome for president, if you can target key precincts in key states and influence the outcome there the national outcome of a presidential election the writers of "house of cards" get that out last season. >> i'm going to definitely get into specifics around the russian attempts but i wanted to ask you a broader question just so we focus on how it won't happen again.
when you look at other centuries over the last year, france, germany, where they faced similar efforts or similar disinformation efforts the information and the way the media responded is very different. do you think going forward, one of the reasons might be because you are much more used to russian efforts to undermine democracy writ large. i guess i would ask you what is your comment that going forward american institutions not just political institutions like congress but media institutions and others equipped to address and prominently displayed in the public what's going on, identify if it happens, if we have
information in the state where russia is hacking again media will address that in the state and nationally. do you think we are in a better place or, i mean i can imagine your frustration in november november 2016 thinking is the world upside down and i had similar feelings. you think we are in a world where the world is writing itself? >> i am concerned about media attention on this issue because with all due respect to my friends in journalism and the media there is an attention deficit in the media tends to gravitate towards the story of the day. the latest white house staffer fired versus the longer-term. >> there's a long list or so you
know. >> are troublesome underlying issues that threaten our democracy and you know there are a number of news organizations that have interviewed me about this topic sometimes the interview gets back burner to buy issue of the day. on the hill i'm glad to see that senator klobuchar and others are focused on this issue but very often it takes a backseat to the story or the scandal or the bombshell of the day for the week. that's what happened in october of 2016 when we wanted to give the american public the information to arm them with full knowledge of what the russian government was doing. amy is right to say that 266 days until the midterm and 36 days before the first primary. i will add to that less than two
years before the presidential primaries began, less than two years. get out of your mind for years or even three years. less than two years the presidential primaries again. so we should not to wait for an actual attack to finally make this an ongoing consistent front burner above the fold item. >> can you tell us more about what one into your important decision to designate critical infrastructure that is an important designation and if the affected had? >> gas. but there is a little bit of history to this. in the summer of 2016 when we were looking for ways to harden the cybersecurity around the election systems somebody on my staff said you know you are are the secretary of homeland security.
you have the authority to designate election infrastructure is critical infrastructure and that means we give that sector a priority in terms of the existence. i said really, i do? how many agency start to go through before i can do that. so i raised this idea with all the secretaries of state, state election officials on a conference call i had in 2016. to my surprise and disappointment the sentiment at least of those who spoke up was neutral to negative. they deemed it to be a federal takeover binding operational in directives and they didn't want the fed to take over the election process. those that express their point of view.
so i put it aside actually. i put it aside because i concluded it was more important to bring the horses to water and not drive them away by not making this designation is that they would regard as an attempt attempted takeover more important to get them to come and. i was actually a good news story. in the run-up to the election we have 33 states in something like 36 counties. i can't room for whether colorado was one of them that sought our cybersecurity assistance. what identified a number of vulnerabilities in the run-up to the election. so that was the good news. i came back to the designation in january of 2017. frankly it's something we should have done years before. there are 16, there were 16 critical infrastructure sectors,
utilities. why not the centerpiece of our democracy? redesignated election infrastructure in the subset or of the arctic designated government infrastructure sector sector. in my opinion that was a no-brainer. i had one more conference call with election officials and i heard the same objections but did it anyway because it was just something that i thought had to be done. that means that dhs gives state election officials of priorities in the cybersecurity assistance that they provide. they give protection of the international cyber norms that nationstates will not attack the critical infrastructure of another nation. it provides for certain level of confidentiality in communication with state election officials. those are the chief advantages and outs for the current
congress and current administration to build on that. >> this story raises a fundamental question which is one that has permeated all of these discussions at one level or another which is are you surprised by the level of partisanship that exists? i will date myself to say that there was a uniform view that democrats and republicans despite soviet attempts to undermine american democracy or anything else. in this election was so surprising i think was not only did you have a major candidate who is inviting russian hacking at some levels but also tended to permeate and how state and local officials erred dealing with this even in the discussion of the nunes memo where you have
part -- partisanship and polarization around the intelligence process. i guess to step back how difficult was it or how much partisanship as you are trying to make this decision about any previous era when it's a uniform bipartisan if not uniform consensus? >> a little bit of good news. the 33 states they came to us did not trend blue or red. it was a pretty random cross-section of the country and in terms of your report as far as i can see you passed out a number of c's and d's so the degree to which they are
interested and committed to this issue does not depend on their policy. i am disappointed that not enough people on both sides of the aisle regard this as a direct threat to our democracy because it is. if a foreign power seeks to tip the scale of our election outcomes as the country that's a very serious problem and nationstates all the hand -- behave the same way which is you have to make the behavior cost prohibitive and it is concerning that the administration is not acting on an fully implementing the sanctions that congress passed because you have to make the behavior -- and i will tell
you this for my own security perspective, you can prevent all cyber attack for the nation. like trying to catch raindrops. you are on defense. your goalie in hockey and you cannot prevent attacks but we can do is making a cost prohibitive so they recognize it's not worth the cost to do this again. i'm afraid the united states government has yet to do this. the russian government has been given very little disincentive at this point. >> just really offer up app point there is a big question about how we are moving for. here is secretary tillerson saying russians are going to continue. they say so far faced no consequences for acting.
how worried are you to pick it get a sense of how worried you are about the 2018 election and how important engaging our state election officials on an ongoing basis is to create that level of accountability. even this report out few states have taken action upon learning of their grades. there is accountability and that and pennsylvania have taken additional steps with paper ballots. i will give this into questions. one, what is your sense that the sanctions haven't been implemented by the trump administration and number two what advice would you leave all of us on how we can protect our democracy and these next 256 days? what are the steps we should take? >> three things.
in answer to the first part of your question about 2018 nothing would surprise me at this point. nothing would surprise me in terms of the full extent which a nation-state, foreign government can and will go. >> so far it's been a pretty good day for them. >> number two i think it's incumbent upon the american voting population to hold accountable their state election officials for the integrity of their elections. then i think number three, it's important and this is a different aspect of the problem here that the american voting public and the american public, the concerned american view with
a certain level of skepticism. i think it's time that the american voting public undertake a qualitative review of the so-called -- and as americans we begin to adopt our own filters. the information we choose to accept as true. when i grew up cronkite, brinkley and national newspapers newspapers. if something had been in the course of the day i believe that walter cronkite would tell me at 6:30 on the news. there is such an plethora of ways in which people particularly young people now get information that they accept as true through less-than-perfect filters and i
think it's time that we all book with a more skeptical eye at the information that is pushed at us that we chose to believe. far too many people, and i think all of us have her sponsor validity to this. far too many people have great skepticism of what their government is doing and are suspicious of government power. far too many people when certain politicians and i'm not mentioning any names accepts what he said about the fbi or the department of justice. so in these efforts that include efforts by russian platforms to inject themselves into the information marketplace around her politics we need to be more more -- of what we are hearing and seeing.
>> it's a perfect illustration of this example. marshall has done great work on how russian bots are amplifying certain messages. of the last couple of weeks the russian bots which are simply amplifying releasing the memo. #put pressure on republicans and the media around things and that partisan memo that devin nunes wrote. as a moment to walk through all of this we are in 2018. russian bots are amplifying a message to undermine the federal investigation we live in that world where the fbi is the agency right now investigating what russia's role was in the
campaign. you don't seem to have a hair on fire moment that the russians are basically trying to undermine an investigation. >> how many established media organizations have you heard say exactly what you just said? it's a pretty simple proposition and that's an alarm. that's a fire alarm going off. that should be a code red in my view. what was your question? >> i will just say, inventing. >> so am i. >> we can all play a role in trying to make that is clear to people as possible but i think the world we are in there such a level of partisanship. are there other institutions that could play that role?
obviously the it's the media's role but are there things that we had to do ourselves to communicate directly with people to become active counters of social media. >> i will start at the top. i think the responsibility and the obligation of our president to sound the alarm and call out the direct attack on her democracy from beyond our borders and who here has heard them do that? in the face of an ongoing campaign to affect our democracy. it's happening right now so you know our president is the most watched and listened to person in the country if not the planet
planet. if he does not undertake this obligation who will? >> thank you. thank you for being here but i want to say a hard help thank you for all that you have done over the years to protect our democracy and to protect the country. thank you so much secretary johnson. [applause] thea i am so pleased to be moderating this election security panel with three outstanding guests. two of our panelists have been at the forefront of the institute of best practices in their state to help protect elections infrastructure and our third panelist is a noted national security expert who understands the important interplay between federal and state policy making. first let me introduce judge
choate the current elections director from colorado. colorado was one of the highest scoring states in our ports. colorado most notably conducts its elections by mail with paper ballots. mr. choate is responsible for implementing cutting-edge risk limiting audits which are essential to ascertaining the accuracy of election results so welcome mr. choate. next we are joined by mr. cortez. he served as the first commissioner of elections for virginia under former governor terry mcauliffe. mr. cortez pulled off a bit of a miracle last year when he oversaw virginia's transition away from voting machines to statewide paper ballot voting systems just in time for virginia's 2017 elections. welcome and friendly are joined by jamil jaffer.
mr. jeffers up under the national security institute at the anthony scalia's school of law at george mason university in virginia where he is also a professor. mr. jaffer also recently served under justice nail course which. prior to his current position he's held senior roles on the senate foreign relations committee the house intelligence committee and the george w. bush administration so welcome to each of you. therefore i start questioning and hopefully we will have time for audience q&a i just want to share with you all our thanks at the center for american progress to all of our coalition allies and partners. many of you are here in the room room. all of you have been working diligently and i think as you heard from senator klobuchar and secretary johnson, this is not a challenge that we are going to overcome by one person or one
organization. this is going to be a collective effort and i want to call out verified voting and common cause for your incredible work so please welcome our panel. [applause] eduardo i'm going to start with you. the election miracle. you showed the nation how the state could quickly upgrade to paper based voting systems like virginia did last year just weeks before the election. can you tell our audience about the experience and first of all why is it so important to upgrade your system and a little bit about the experiences you help share with without lesson learned with their audience. >> think you for having me today. ultimately the decision in virginia came down to one of confidence in the process and as i told the state board elections
and our local election officials as we head into the decision about the certifying equipment we had an interim election day. the question was would we be able to get up there with confidence in front of the camera and tell her voters we had confidence and resolve in the tally of what the votes were. we have reached a point where we couldn't do that. there was no way to verify if something went wrong to verify their receipt of those results. as an election administrator and as somebody who is seeing the face of the virginia elections at the time it was not something i would be comfortable doing so he moved forward to certifying the equipment. it was very difficult for local government to transition in such a timeframe. we worked a lot not just our local governments but a lot with the vendors that were out there
to figure out how to transition them how to get new equipment in place. we are a party and the start of the fiscal year so working with vendors to figure out why and sing options or new equipment. working out all sorts of things related to deliveries and equipment. thankfully we have papers that were certified. unfortunately in virginia to cost the local government to pick up the tab. governor mcauliffe tried to get funding to transition equipment for everybody in the state. the legislature decide it was a local responsibility and local governments would have to pick up the tab for that. for us being able to tell her voters regardless of what the outcome is we are confident. this isn't held voters voted and there's a question that we can
go back to and verify. we had quite a bit of number of recounts in november which would not impossible if we were still using those methods. >> that's interesting. he saw the increase confidence in the citizens themselves. >> we have a lot of close elections. at the legislative level in virginia in november and a lot of them came down to recount. we would not have been able to give people that assurance of what the outcome was and we'd still be using dre's. we had an election scenario where transitioning over to paper had benefits right away. >> colorado is helping to lead the nation in election security preparedness particularly the first in the nation to require risk limiting audits. can you tell the audience about
requiring those audits and the success of carrying them out in 2017. as you were talking about colorado specifically if you would also address why your states are looking to taking out those risks limit audits and other states that are looking at this practice. >> thank you for inviting us. we really appreciate it. we take a lot of pride in this election. auditing your election outcomes as a first step in guaranteeing that you have carried out a good election. there are various ways to do audits. you can just do an audit of a particular race or a particular piece of equipment. you can do a random audit of an entire collection which is what we did before we instituted the reforming audit or you can do a risk removing audit.
requires an assessment of the outcome of particular races based on how many votes were cast in that race and how close the margin was. you are picking out particular ballots to determine whether or not those ballots were counted correctly. you are looking back at a record record. the thing about their risk limiting audit is requires more sophisticated tally and scanning. you can't really do a risk limiting audit right now because they don't have that level of equipment. really we need to be able to have their equipment so they need to upgrade their equipment perhaps the federal government could -- just suggesting that might be a good idea and that might give states the chance to upgrade their equipment. >> in using a risk limiting
audits what does the public feel about them? doesn't instill confidence? is there a benefit in spending judicial money? >> intellectually makes a lot of sense. you have the close race in which a lot of your voters voted to that's a race where you should really be looking at more ballots. if you have a race where the margin is pretty wide and he didn't have a lot of voters that's a race where you don't have to look at as many ballots. the concept really make sense to people. for that reason i think the confidence of people have in the way you are auditing and the way you are checking the results of your election taps into that natural instinct that your voters have. from that perspective it makes a lot of sense and it makes a lot of sense for an election administrator position because here we are.
we want to make sure that our equipment does a good job of analyzing or assessing how a particular voter voted and we can do that anymore straightforward way and in a way that better assesses how a particular outcome was determined based on how close or how many votes were cast. the risk limiting audit those really tap into that overall assessment of how an election was conducted. >> we have discussed a lot about state and local interplay in this local government and the states in some ways and with secretary johnson said the states are in the frontline are our nations from foreign actors who want to do us harm in our elections. someone who has cybersecurity experience what is your view of the role that plays an election
security and support they need from the federal government? >> that's a great question and it's important that we recognize and acknowledge what secretary johnson and yujin ko -- neera told us and that is we are in the midst of an ongoing cybercampaign by russia to undermine their own confidence in our various situations of governance. it's a tremendous problem and one that we as a nation in both localities states that manage them in the federal government that ultimately benefits from the elections at the state and local level in federal elections. all of us have a role to play in that process. secretary johnson is right that we individually have a response ability. when it comes to the question of the role the federal government is critical that the government
provide the funding and resources. they are on the frontlines yesterday dealing with this problem yet this is a national security problem that we should not make light of. there is a tension between states who think it's critical for the government to audit their elections. they can run their own elections in localities. i'm skeptical of an over and this is on federal standards. the same time it do think there is an important role for the government to play in funding resources information capabilities and knowledge and the like. we talked about this in 2001. let's be frank about it. the federal government has not done its job and we have had a hard time as a result. we have challenges internally about how we count votes. now we are under attack by a
foreign nation-state and we still can't seem to get it together. >> as both of you are members and you were on the executive committee of the government coordinating council for infrastructure the election assistance commission and state and local election officials from around the country. to pick up on your point can you tell us about your experience working with federal entities on the election security. what is well and what hasn't and where is there room for improvement from your perspective at the state level and can you address the challenges? >> i'm happy to do that. secretary johnson who we just heard from designated critical infrastructure and january 10,
2173 we began meeting with the department of homeland security and the elections assistance commission surely thereafter and developed a plan and created a set or plan. we put together a sector so it created the government coordinating council and now we are receiving services. actually i can tell you and everybody who is concerned about the u.s. election system that the department of homeland security and the governmental coordinating council and the states that are using those services are making extraordinary progress in securing our elections. many states were already fare and were doing a great job before. they are to solve this as a essential element of conducting a free and fair election but even we and even colorado has
received really important services through our relationship with dhs. like i say the governmental coordinating council is working very closely with the department of homeland security, so much so that i meet with or have a weekly phonecall with the deputy undersecretary that runs the elections section. i speak to chris krebs who is his boss on occasion and very important people in the department of homeland security. they are clearly taking this seriously and because of that we are getting very important services very quick way. even the full on-site two-week assessment that they do of your entire system now any state that
wants to have one of those duncan have been done before the middle of april. that's well in advance of many of the primaries that are going to happen in the cycle and certainly in advance of the general election. we are really pleased with the services from homeland security. >> we had a similar experience in colorado which is the ability to work with the department of homeland security. last year a few states have a statewide election going on last year so we got a lot of direct attention from dhs. we have them come down for in person assessments. we actually had people on the ground on election day cybersecurity folks from dhs with our cyber focus on election
day or the lead-up to so the services they provide to me we had a big focus on cybersecurity during the trump administration and a big focus on cyber security. we were doing a lot of things where dhs where it's been important. like jeff said even if you were already doing a lot of things around figuring out how to cure your system and where to make improvements having this expertise come and review what you were doing and take a look at that and say hey here are some potential vulnerabilities you may have in your system and here's a way to address them. i think that's a huge help to elected officials. it can be an overwhelming thing to take a close an intensive look at your system and go oh my gosh there are all these potential ways for people to get into an attacker system.
where do we start? where will we get the most bang for our buck? what can we do in the timeframe that we have that would have the most impact? dhs has been super helpful in coming in and helping. we all have limited resources. would you grade if we had additional federal resources but having that expertise come and and say hearer potential vulnerabilities but you can focus on this and have a much bigger impact than you focus on these other 10 things. we have never had a moment where we tried to contact or had a question for the department of homeland security. we couldn't get a very quick response from them. overall despite our high-level rhetoric that's been going on about state control and federal
intervention in the department has taken it very seriously and working well with election officials. >> that speaks to bipartisan sponsors of secretary johnson talked about. how important is bipartisanship and addressing the issue of election security? >> i think it's critical. we have seen an explosion in partisanship over the last year since the last election and it's troubling. it's at the heart of our own democracy. these questions about disclosures and elections and voting i think it's impossible to see the world threat that's out there. while i'm not pollyanna-ish about it and i would hope at least on this one issue which is
at the heart of our democracy the way we'll find common ground in the path forward. this is an administration forward every think about it does have people like tom boss or the white house kirsten nelson and chris krebs all have a lot of expertise. you've got some folks who can get to the issue of cybersecurity. ..
that's needed t needs to be imp, but they've done a great job of getting them to that point. others are not there yet and that is a concern. >> that's going to be my final question. how do you think they are at respond and another potential attack or to the one we don't even see it happening right now? we have a whole bunch of systems that operate in a given election. where you mark your ballot. those are not connected to the
internet. the only realistic way that you could influence the vote at the point at which the boat is made is to be present. literally get out a screwdriver and start playing with particular chips inside of the equipment. that part of the system is protected because of the way that we set it up. the next is the voter registration system. that is connected to the internet so that is where we are putting a lot of our focus, so that is where some b. tha of tht is sitting in their basement in russia can actually try to influence and get access into the systems and so that's where that dhs to protect and hard in the systems and we are making
extraordinary progress on that. we were already in good shape but then a correct misnomer that's out there, we are aware that one state was hacked to the point that voter registration was accessible. there was another that was kind of close and then there were the other 19 states that were scanned that means they were basically knocking on the door and then went away. we could walk of a feeling pretty good about what happened because there were not any penetrations in the particular systems. they changed outcomes are changed finals. but the other part of the system that we need to address or be conscious of is that reporting services the reporting of the results because if you report
results that are wildly incorrect and then you have to go back and defend those resul results, then you are working with vendors on a lot of this so if we can secure the system and then these external syste systet have to do with the confidence, those elements are really important. people can feel pretty secure that the vote they cast are properly read and accessed properly by the state and are catalogues that the outcome is accurate. we can feel pretty good about that at this point. >> how do you feel about it in 2018?
voter registration systems are the biggest potential point of failure in the process and that is where a lot of states have been putting in substantial resources and i think there are states getting ready and have been transitioning to a registration systems. they are looking at the beginning of the process appeared during -- procuring new systems in figuring out how to address any potential vulnerabilities so that's where a lot of the resources are goi going. i remember from the standpoint of.
we had concerns in virginia and a lot of the concern and that equipment we came to our decision a lot based on the fact there's no way to tell in the water system if there's been any tampering in the mentor anything that has happened to the equipment to impact how it functions so not having a way to validate if there is a question i think for me creates from a confidence standpoint it creates a very big concern. there does need to be a priority but i do think that the registration systems across the board are imported into the last thing i'd do is, and we talked about the interplay between the state government and federal
in the cyber preparedness at the end of the being the state that have been through a local election office and so having that vote and making sure we are looking at resources for the local officials should be critical. there is a microphone here if you can stand up and identify yourself and ask a question we have about five more minutes.
even though we had concerns about the electoral system and influence of foreign government o,the easiest solution to all these problems is for people that register to vote and get out the vote. today we are at historical lows on the voter turnout so that you are concerned that the best solution is to vote. >> i'm going to encourage everyone to do that. let me thank my colleagues for the tremendous report and each and every one of you.
being here in the birthplace of the movement to montgomery alabama, the most important issues to me r. e. quality, freedom and equal justice for all people. we can't just talk about this every february in black history month but we have to live it every day of the year so we have to do more to build purchase. a famous educator in alabama booker t. washington used to exert one's power. one is pushing down and one is pulling up. people are graduating from different colleges coming home looking for a job and there is no chop. you need more than just a
college degree to get a job. people don't have financial aid so they don't have the money ticket to higher education or a job at an average degree. >> we have been fighting common core we fight that every year in the new bill and -- >> racial inequalities and justice reform. here in the states we still have rhetoric in the constitution that is representative of the time that has long passed and i think having discriminatory language in the document is very outdated and limits people's powers of the disenfranchisement and the way that law enforcement
interacts with the citizens across the state. i think those things need to be addressed so that we can have the gap within the disparities and the qualities in the justice system here in alabama. those can close and accessed. everyone should have equal opportunities to go to college to support themselves and the government should take on the responsibility. it sounds like that is an important issue in alabama.