February 22, 2018 / 2:46 PM / Updated 2 hours ago
Exclusive: U.S. official focused on election security being shoved aside

Dustin Volz
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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