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Washington to activate National Guard cyber teams for election security

First reported by Politico on Friday, November 4, the National Guard in cooperation with state governors will be activating approximately 100 personnel for state active duty to support officials in 14 states to protect election infrastructure against cyber threats. Overall, the National Guard has a total of 2,200 cyber support personnel within 38 cyber units throughout the United States.

“You don’t train people in corporations and the state public sectors to do this kind of work,” Brig. Gen. Gent Welsh, assistant adjutant general and commander of the Washington state Air National Guard told Politico. “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.”

Kim Wyman
Kim Wyman

The National Guard Cyber Force will work with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the same agency former Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman accepted as an appointment with the Biden Administration last year to serve as its Senior Election Security Lead.

“Although many people are just now beginning to pay attention to the election, thousands of state and local election officials have been preparing for this day all year,” Wyman wrote in a CISA press release last Friday. “CISA has been working to support them, ensuring that the election officials on the frontlines of protecting and defending democracy have access to the resources, tools, capabilities, and information they need to build resilience against all threats.”

The cybersecurity teams will be supporting National Guard units on Tuesday in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington, and West Virginia.

Two weeks ago, the Secretary of State Office led by Steve Hobbs launched a statewide “Vote with Confidence” campaign to combat election misinformation and build voter trust.

“The ‘Vote with Confidence’ campaign aims to maintain or restore voters’ trust by sharing facts about voter eligibility, election security, and the vote-by-mail process — all of which are common targets of misinformation,” the press release states.

Steve Hobbs
Secretary of State Steve Hobbs is the keynote speaker at the Rotary Club of Arlington on Thursday, July 28, 2022, addressing questions on election integrity. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.
United States Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Rick Larsen

Last Thursday, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) joined 31 House Democrats in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide more information on how the DOJ’s Election Threats Task Force is addressing possible threats of violence toward election workers across the U.S. In July 2021, the DOJ established the Elections Threats Task Force to “address threats of violence against election workers, and to ensure that all election workers—whether they are elected, appointed, or serve as volunteers—are permitted to do their jobs free from threats and intimidation.”

“Any threat toward an election worker is a threat to our democracy,” added Rep. Larsen said in the press release. “I urge the Department of Justice to provide more details about its critical work to ensure election workers can safely and effectively do their job and voters are confident in the integrity of the democratic process.”

To learn more about Washington state’s election security, visit the Secretary of State’s Elections webpage or contact a local county elections office for more information about how individual counties are preparing for the general Election on November 8th.

Editor’s Note: Originally it was reported that the National Guard activated 2,200 cyber support personnel within 38 cyber units in 14 states to protect election infrastructure against cyber threats. This has been corrected to “100 personnel for state active duty to support officials in 14 states to protect election infrastructure against cyber threats” on November 8, 2022, at 1:48 p.m. PST.

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