Paul Ryan, House Speaker, along with the White House is looking to replace a federal official who’s been working on ways to protect the election systems from possible future cyber attacks. This seems a bit fishy, doesn’t it? I mean, let’s get rid of the guy who is trying to prevent future cyber attacks from Russia. Matthew Masterson is currently in this position and who was picked by Paul Ryan, and formally nominated by Donald Trump himself. But he’s not going to be re-appointed as commissioner for the US Election Assistance Commission. This is in large part due to the fact that Masterson made cybersecurity a priority when he became the commission’s chairman in February 2017. This, of course, was in response to what happened during the 2016 Presidential elections.
Masterson wrote an opinion piece for The Hill, where he indicated that the EAC would support and empower state and local governments in order to purchase “new and innovative election” machines. But that’s not sitting well with the current Administration. And why would it? They are the only one who serves to benefit from an agenda that doesn’t support “new and innovative election machines”.
What’s interesting is that the US intelligence community actually believes that Russian authorities launched an attack on the US election infrastructure, which is on top of hacking the DNC and Hillary Clinton herself. This occurred before and during the 2016 elections. In addition, the voting machines the country has been using for the past decade are already obsolete and vulnerable to infiltration. So why are they being kept? Well, they cost money to replace. Some states already have plans to do this, but Pennsylvania, for example, just doesn’t have the budget to do so. I mean, how can you improve a system if you don’t have any money to do so?
But why isn’t Masteron being nominated again? I think the reason is obvious. But a spokesperson for Paul Ryan has indicated “the appointment expired in December and we are going in a different direction for our nomination. We nominate people for a variety of positions and generally speaking choose our own folks”. Again, this is quite suspicious, don’t you think? Just two years ago, Masterson was on the list of people in Ryan’s camp, but suddenly he’s no longer part of that group? I think the reason is quite obvious.
Privacy advocates are already worried about the impact of Masterson’s removal from EAC since it could mean that the meaningful security changes that he’s been fighting for might not see the light of day before the midterm elections. Which means, there’s a greater chance of interference from Russian attacks. U.S. intelligence agencies believe that this is going to happen again. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Further, Masterson is incredibly capable and has been a champion of more secure and better elections the entire time he’s been with EAC. How this plays out in the media, and in the headlines is going to be interesting. Also, who is selected by Ryan and the White House will be a huge tell as to what their agenda is with this one.