February 22, 2018 / 2:46 PM / Updated 2 hours ago
Exclusive: U.S. official focused on election security being shoved aside
6 Min Read
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of a federal agency who has helped U.S. states
protect election systems from possible cyber attacks by Russia or others is
being removed from his post by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul
Ryan and the White House.
Matthew Masterson, currently chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance
Commission and a former Ohio state official, has been passed over for a second
four-year term as one of the agency’s four commissioners, according to sources
familiar with the matter.
It is up the House speaker to recommend a nominee for the commissioner post
that Masterson currently holds, with the president then making a formal
Masterson has been a popular figure among state election officials, many of
whom have praised his expertise and leadership on cyber security issues and
expressed chagrin at his pending departure. The agency was created by Congress
in 2002 to assist states in complying with federal election standards.
The action raises fresh questions over the degree to which Republican President
Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who control Congress are taking steps
to protect the security of American elections, and some state officials have
accused them of doing too little to address the threat.
U.S. voters in November will go to the polls in midterm elections, which
American intelligence officials have warned could be targeted by Russia or
others seeking to disrupt the process.
There is intense scrutiny of the security of U.S. election systems after a 2016
presidential race in which Russia interfered, according to American
intelligence agencies, to try to help Trump win with presidency. Trump in the
past has been publicly skeptical about Russian election meddling.
The reason for passing over Masterson and whether the decision originated with
Ryan or the White House remained unclear. Some Republicans over the years have
sought to eliminate or reduce the agency, arguing that it represents a federal
overreach into the role of states in running elections.
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