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Carney asks National Guard cybersecurity squad to help protect elections

Gov. John Carney has OK’d the National Guard helping protect Delaware’s elections online.

Gov. John Carney announced Friday night that he has asked the Delaware National Guard’s 166th Cyberspace Operations Squadron to help the state avoid cyber attacks in the 2020 election.

The squadron will help protect Delaware’s elections infrastructure, a 6:30 p.m. press release from the governor said. He authorized the aid in Executive Order #46. It was signed Thursday.

This is not the first time Carney has approved the help. He OK’d the squad’s  assistance for the 2018 primary and general election. An executive order was not used then because no National Guardsmen or women were activated to active duty.  

Carney previously has expressed great confidence in the security of Delaware’s election system, including the use of absentee and mail-in ballots. 

“This is about accessing the cyber security expertise of the Guard to be proactive about potential cyber threats,” said Carney spokesman Jon Starkey. “The governor is confident that we will have a secure election.”

The states of Washington and Connecticut also have asked their National Guard’s cybersecurity squads to help.

“Throughout our country’s history, Americans have sacrificed to secure voting rights for our fellow citizens,” Carney said in the press release. “We have an obligation to take additional steps to protect that right from any cyber threats. This Executive Order is a proactive measure to do just that.”

Delaware Republican Party Chair Jane Brady said that if Carney was concerned about election security, he should not have supported voting by mail.

“If the governor really cared about the integrity of the voting system in Delaware, he would not have signed a vote by mail bill that imposes a new and confusing system on an unprepared Department of Elections office and the public shortly before an important election,” Brady said. “He would have utilized the absentee ballot system, which has consistently proven to be a way for Delaware citizens to vote remotely. I am please that the governor acknowledges that the vote by mail system raises concerns significant enough to call in the National Guard.”

The release said the squadron will work with the Delaware Department of Elections, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) and any other state agency that requests help to: 

  • Provide advice to DTI to prevent, protect and defend against cyber incidents
  • Monitor and analyze risks or threats
  • Offer technical and architectural review support for best practices
  • Respond to any incidents 
  • Train and support after the election 

The executive order expires at the end of December.