On July 24, Hon. Ricky Hatch, Clerk/Auditor for Weber County, Utah testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss the role counties play in ensuring safe and efficient elections. The hearing, “Cyber-Securing the Vote: Ensuring the Integrity of the U.S. Election System,” and can be viewed online. Other witnesses included U.S. Department of Homeland Security Under Secretary Christopher Krebs, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and U.S. Election Assistance Commission Commissioner Thomas Hicks.
In his testimony, Auditor Hatch outlined the crucial role counties play in administering and securing elections, including overseeing the allocation of voting machines, managing polling locations, printing and mailing ballots, recruiting and training poll workers and protecting voting machines, computers and other equipment used to cast, record, tally and certify votes.
“Elections are not just a one-day event for counties,” Auditor Hatch told the committee. “From a cybersecurity standpoint, we work year-round to protect against direct hacking attempts that seek to improperly access voter rolls, remove election information from county websites, or alter voting data.”
Auditor Hatch also shared recommendations from counties to better protect our elections infrastructure. These suggestions encouraged Congress to:
- Support a dedicated, predictable federal funding stream to help local governments protect elections and prevent funds from stalling at the state level;
- Pursue additional coordinated federal and state outreach to local jurisdictions, especially those that are remote and rural; and
- Undertake a robust federalism consultation process with states and local governments when considering any changes to election cybersecurity protocols.
Throughout his testimony, Auditor Hatch stressed the uniquely local role of elections, and the importance of including counties in future cybersecurity efforts. “All elections are local,” he said. “We stand ready to work with you, federal agencies and our states to strengthen our nation’s elections process and retain the public’s confidence.”
To learn more, please see NACo’s recently released publication on the county role in the elections process.