California Acts to Defend Elections from Cyberattacks

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 3075, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), to establish the Office of Elections Cybersecurity (OEC) within the Secretary of State’s office.

“Russia, Iran, and North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated attacks on our elections demand an equally sophisticated response,” said Berman. “AB 3075 will equip state and county elections officials with resources to repel cyber-attacks and counteract misinformation designed to suppress voter turnout. By creating the first Office of Elections Cybersecurity in the country, California is taking the lead to combat nefarious tactics intended to undermine our democracy.” ​

On March 7, 2018, the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee and the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee held a joint informational hearing on cybersecurity and California elections. Expert witnesses emphasized the importance of information sharing and coordination between government agencies as well as developing strategies to counteract false or misleading information that may suppress voter participation or otherwise undermine the integrity of elections.

Under the bill, the OEC would be tasked with these responsibilities in addition to developing best practices for protecting election infrastructure from cyber threats, identifying resources available to state and county elections officials, and advising the Secretary of State on election cybersecurity issues.

Assemblymember Berman and Senator Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) successfully advocated for $2 million in the California 2018-19 Budget to fund the Office of Elections Cybersecurity.