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Mississippians split on DHS designation of electoral system as ‘critical infrastructure’

JACKSON, MISS– The Department of Homeland Security labeled the nation’s electoral system as “critical infrastructure” following allegations of Russian involvement in the presidential election. 

DHS Head Jeh Johnson told Politico the label would place protecting polling places, voting machines and databases a top cyber-security priority for the department.

The critical label is typically applied to aspects of the nation that, if damaged, would negatively impact the nation’s security and economy.

Johnson said that this was a protection, and in no way federal overreach.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann disagreed, saying it is a step too far.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s sudden decision to designate state election systems as ‘critical infrastructure’ is overreaching and unnecessary.  The U.S. Constitution delegates responsibility for conducting elections to the states,” said Hosemann. “The diversity of current state election systems is one reason these systems have remained secure.  Despite widespread concern about cyberattacks (and repeated attempts), Mississippi’s Statewide Elections Management System was not breached.  In fact, the Department of Homeland Security commended Mississippi for its current cybersecurity protocols.  No citizen’s vote was compromised in Mississippi.”

Sec. Hosemann said that in the coming days, he will be researching the designation to see what it means for state elections.

“I remain committed to protecting Mississippians’ personal registration information and protecting each and every vote,” said Sec. Hosemann.  “Clearly this can be accomplished without overreach by the federal government.”

Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) voiced support for the label.

“In the long term, this will put our electoral systems on a more secure footing and maintain public confidence in our elections,” Thompson, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee told Politico. “I commend Secretary Johnson for making this important decision.”

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