National Guard to Help States With Election Cybersecurity

Units are being deployed in 14 states
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2022 12:10 PM CDT
National Guard to Provide Cybersecurity for Midterms
Completed early ballots sit in bins waiting to be counted at the Denver Elections Division on Friday in downtown Denver.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

National Guard personnel are being deployed to states to protect the midterm elections from cybersecurity threats. The experts will help in 14 states, Politico reports, starting before Election Day and continuing through the aftermath. The commander of the Washington state Air National Guard said calling on a "military-grade helper" makes sense. "You don't train people in corporations and the state public sectors to do this kind of work," Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh said. "One of the unique things here is you have the National Guard whose mission it is in a lot of cases to do cyber missions against other military structures."

Part of the job will be receiving security updates from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the main federal agency charged with protecting election infrastructure from cyber threats. Colorado's secretary of state asked for the help last week, per Colorado Politics. "Outside of Colorado, voter registration databases have been compromised by cyber actors hacking into various systems," Gov. Jared Polis' executive order activating the state unit says. Breaches could expose voters' personal data, the order says, which wouldn't threaten election results but could undermine public faith in the system. The National Guard provided similar assistance in the state's primary in June and in the 2020 general election.

The troops could help in other ways, per the Military Times. The Alabama guard said, for instance, its personnel may assist with directing pedestrian or vehicle traffic, transporting equipment, and escorting election and law enforcement officials. Delaware's will test the system from users' point of view to look for vulnerabilities. North Carolina's Maj. Gen. Todd Hunt said his personnel will provide 24-hour assistance. "We are citizen soldiers, we live in this state, and we do have a vested interest in our state elections as well as our federal elections," Hunt said. (More National Guard stories.)

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