White House: Voting commission will look at hacking

Amid growing pressure on the Trump administration to respond more aggressively to revelations about Russian hacking of voting systems, a White House spokesman has suggested that the president’s voter fraud commission will probe the issue.

The spokesman, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (pictured), also offered some information about the commission’s broader initial plans, saying state and local election offices would soon be asked to send their voting data for a review.

Asked Friday whether Trump was worried about hacking, Spicer said: “He instituted an election commission that is making sure we look at all of how we’re voting … And that includes cyber, it includes voter ID, it includes all sorts of systems.”

Spicer added: “I expect that commission to have several announcements in probably the next two weeks, and potentially some hearings in July.”

Spicer then was asked to respond to state and local election officials who say they haven’t  gotten enough help from the administration on how to protect their voting systems.

He said: “I think those official — state and county, and I think down to the municipal level — will get a letter next week from the commission asking them to help facilitate some transfer of data back to us so we can begin the process of a thorough review of the systems.  And we will continue to engage them and find out ways that we can strengthen the integrity of our system and make sure that we have the utmost confidence in our voting system.”

Spicer’s comments come after two of the commission’s Democrats, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, last week publicly urged the panel to focus on Russian cyberattacks. A Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission has also done so.

Responding to Gardner and Dunlap. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chair and de facto leader, said hacking wasn’t included in the commission’s original mandate, but added: “But if it’s something the commission wants to discuss, we can.”

Hours before Spicer spoke to the press Friday, another top White House aide, Kellyanne Conway, also pointed to the commission as part of the administration’s response to Russian cyberattacks. Asked by CNN how the administration was protecting elections from foreign threats, Conway said: “The president has met with his national security team many times, he has an initiative or commission on voter integrity, and he himself has used the power of the bully pulpit to express his resistance towards any type of outside interference.”

Intelligence officials testified last week that Russian hackers targeted 21 state voting systems. TIME has reported that in at least one case, voter records were altered,though the problem was discovered and fixed.

The White House voting commission has been expected to focus on illegal voting, though the evidence is clear that such voting doesn’t exist at a significant scale. Numerous experts have warned that the commission is intended to lay the groundwork for new restrictions on voting.

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