Rep. Katko Meets with Officials on 2020 Election Cybersecurity in NYS

Jan 21, 2020

Onondaga County Board of Elections Co-Commissioner Michele Sardo (left), John Katko (center) and DHS Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency Regional Director John Durkin met with state and local election officials to discuss cybersecurity defenses in the upcoming 2020 election primaries.
Credit John Smith / WAER News

Congressmember John Kakto convened a bipartisan briefing of State and local elections officials from across the state Tuesday in Syracuse to discuss cyber security in the 2020 primaries and the Presidential Election.  Katko serves on the Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Innovation Subcommittee. 

He says an additional $425 million in this year’s federal budget will be spent to protect the votes of millions of Americans.  After hearing from board of elections commissioners, he feels New York is in good shape.

"We are much farther ahead than some other states... I'm going to get a feel for the local level, and I got a better feel today... We have paper ballot backups which are going to help a lot, so if there was a ransomware attack or a cyber attack, ultimately I don't think it's going to undermine the impact of the election results in any way, shape or form."

Are the concerns over possible election hacking or interference by other countries of real concern?  Co-Executive Director of the State Board of Elections Todd Valentine says they monitor operations throughout the state.

"You can't hack paper, but you can disrupt the election process and that's what we guard against as far as the redundancy for the voter registration system, for the voring equipment itself."

The coordinated discussions about cybersecurity and elections like the one held Tuesday is something Katko hopes will serve as a model. He plans to request his colleagues in Washington hold the same kind of discussions in the other 49 states ahead of the elections.

This story has been updated with copy corrections.