Opening Statement by CISA Director Jen Easterly at the Update on Foreign Threats to the 2024 Elections Hearing


Jen Easterly, CISA Director

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Chairman, Vice Chairman, members of the Committee, thanks for the opportunity to discuss CISA’s work to protect and defend our nation’s election infrastructure. 

Since 2017 when election infrastructure was designated as critical infrastructure and CISA designated as the Sector Risk Management Agency for election infrastructure, CISA and our partners across the federal government, including the IC and the FBI, have made significant progress increasing the security and the resilience of our Nation’s elections, working to support state and local election officials who serve on the frontlines of our democracy, administering, managing, and securing our elections. Election infrastructure has never been more secure, and the election stakeholder community has never been stronger. 

As a result, these officials ran secure federal elections in 2018, 2020, and 2022. As you know, there is no evidence that malicious actors changed, altered, or deleted votes or had any impact on the outcome of these elections. This has been validated time and again, including in multiple court challenges. And in the states where the 2020 Presidential election was close, officials had paper records that were used to count, recount, or audit to ensure accuracy. In this role, I’ve had the privilege to spend time with Chief Election Officials across the country of both parties and witness how tirelessly they work to ensure that their citizens’ votes are counted as cast. It’s why I have confidence in the integrity of our elections, and why the American people should as well. 

However, we cannot be complacent. While our election infrastructure is more secure than ever, today’s threat environment is more complex than ever. And we are very clear eyed about this. As the DNI noted, our foreign adversaries remain a persistent threat to our elections, intent on undermining Americans’ confidence in the foundation of our democracy and sowing partisan discord, efforts which could be exacerbated by generative AI capabilities. Perhaps even more concerning, however, is the continuing physical threats toward election officials, largely stemming from unfounded claims that the 2020 election did not represent the will of the people. 

Such claims are corrosive to our most sacred of democratic traditions and have led to harassment and threats of violence against election officials of both parties and their families. As a result, we’ve seen a wave of departures of election officials, taking with them extensive experience and critical institutional knowledge. Many who remain are forced to carry out their work under difficult circumstances. We at CISA are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with these election heroes defending the very foundation of our democracy. 

In fact, CISA is providing more services in more jurisdictions than ever before, with extensive guidance and training featured on our Protect 2024 website. Since the beginning of 2023, we’ve conducted over 340 cybersecurity assessments; 520 physical security assessments; 70 tabletop exercises; and provided over 220 trainings reaching more than 9,000 participants. We provide weekly reports to nearly 1,000 election infrastructure stakeholders, highlighting vulnerabilities so they can be quickly remediated. We’ve sponsored more than 230 security clearances to election officials and worked with the IC to set up classified briefings on nation state threats. And most recently, we hired 10 dedicated regional Election Security Advisors who bring over 210 years of election experience to support election stakeholders across the nation. 

Finally, we continue to actively engage on threats posed by foreign malign influence operations, providing updated guidance, as recent as last month, on the tactics of disinformation being deployed by our adversaries; we’re using our Rumor vs. Reality website to provide accurate information about election infrastructure security; and most importantly, we’re amplifying the voices of state and local election officials who are the authoritative subject matter experts when it comes to elections.  

As these officials know, elections are political, but election security is not. We at CISA are committed to keeping it that way and look to your leadership and support in helping us do so.  

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.