LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska legislator says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has assured him that it “has no intention now or in the future” to interfere with state elections.
Republican state Sen. John Murante of Gretna wrote to the federal agency in March, calling for officials to reverse a decision dating from President Barack Obama’s administration that labeled election systems as “critical infrastructure.”
Murante said the designation raised the potential of federal intervention in state election systems that would violate state sovereignty and increase security risks.
The Homeland Security Department responded to Murante saying it plans to keep the designation to provide state, local and tribal governments with priority assistance in managing election security risks.
“Now more than ever, our nation must ensure the integrity of our nation’s election processes and the department’s mission is to provide assistance as needed and requested,” the agency wrote to the state senator.
The agency also said state participation is “entirely voluntary” and that the designation doesn’t allow federal officials to access state systems without legal agreements.
The security of election systems gained attention last year. Federal officials have notified various states of attempts to hack into election equipment, but Nebraska was not among them.
Murante said he’s confident that his state’s election system is safe from outside intrusion. Nebraska uses paper ballots and scanning machines that aren’t connected to the internet.
With assurance from federal government, Murante said he’ll step up efforts to establish voter photo identification requirements in Nebraska. He said voter identification assurances are especially needed now when “public confidence in our election system has been undermined” by voter irregularities and instances of voter fraud.