The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), held an annual election security exercise last week to test Election Day plans.
The fifth annual Tabletop the Vote exercise took place August 17 to 19, bringing together Federal, state, local, and private sector partners. The three-day event included a range of hypothetical scenarios affecting election operations, allowing participants to share best practices around “cyber and physical incident planning, preparedness, identification, response, and recovery.”
Following the exercise, CISA Director Jen Easterly and members of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee – including U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chairman Thomas Hicks, NASS President and New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, NASED President and Administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission Meagan Wolfe, and Escambia County (Florida) Supervisor of Elections David Stafford – issued a joint statement.
“The nation’s election officials face a range of challenges, including cyber and physical risks to their infrastructure, and false election information that weaken voters’ trust in the process,” they said. “In the face of this dynamic environment, the election community works closely together to ensure the American people can be confident in the security and resilience of the 2022 elections.”
“This week’s exercise was just one of the many examples of the year-round coordination taking place among the Federal government, state and local election officials, and the private sector to prepare for the 2022 general election,” they continued. “In addition to Tabletop the Vote, many jurisdictions and states have also held exercises throughout the year.”
Federal participants of this year’s Tabletop the Vote included CISA, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Agency, National Guard Bureau, FBI, U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
The annual exercise comes just after the House Oversight and Reform Committee released a report calling for a whole-of-government plan to support state and local election officials amid an increase in election-related misinformation and disinformation.
The surge of threats and disinformation following the 2020 presidential election was “distracting us to the point where we can’t get our real work done,” the president of the Election Officials of Arizona reported to the committee.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump questioned the security of the 2020 election, despite CISA and members of the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council Executive Committee finding no evidence of any voting system compromises and calling the election “the most secure in American history.”