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at the department of homeland security cyber command center in Arlington Virginia the lights are blinking red not because of an imminent threat because Reuters was allowed inside this normally sealed off room for a rare look around and for an interview with Christopher crabs a former director of cyber security policy at Microsoft and the first director of the cyber security and infrastructure security agency you know mess around with our elections you don't mess around with those of our allies and our partners he says his top priority right now is keeping the twenty twenty elections protected from the spread of disinformation reaches into political campaigns and even cyber attacks on voting equipment we think twenty eighteen was the most secure election , %HESITATION conducted in in the modern era it's because we the level of it of engagement the level of coordination the level of participation we've had across the country %HESITATION was was unlike any we've ever seen before in twenty twenty is going to be even better there's still a lot of work it's got to be done out there %HESITATION it it's going to take time it's gonna take money well the twenty eighteen mid term elections were free of major cyber attacks the twenty sixteen presidential election is a sore point top intelligence officials have said Russia targeted political campaigns and employed influence campaigns on social media and there's evidence that Russia went farther than that there were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our election special counsel Robert Muller report indicated that the Russians had successfully installed malware on the network of the company did not name that manufactures election equipment that led to increased scrutiny of VR systems which supplied some North Carolina counties with electronic pull books that malfunction during the twenty sixteen election telling voters in Durham county that they had already voted when they had the our systems has consistently denied that its system was hacked the agency crabs overseas recently conducted the first known federal investigation of that equipment that malfunctioned in twenty sixteen we worked with the our systems %HESITATION we conducted some assessments of their networks and you know it the point %HESITATION that we were in there , yeah everything checked out %HESITATION they've they've done some other work %HESITATION in the past but %HESITATION yeah we don't have any information right now that would suggest that there's an ongoing compromise with envy or systems Crabb says a more pressing issue is providing a paper trail for every voter and every polling station ultimately what we're really striving for whether it's in Durham county in the state of North Carolina any other state is we got to get to a place where we have audit ability across the system and a lot of that is is getting to a paper ballot back up this give me a role for the federal government here not just %HESITATION in providing technical assistance and hands on support we got to figure out what resources are needed %HESITATION out there but by twenty twenty we're gonna be in a better shape be in better shape %HESITATION in terms of the equipment that's out there in the processes that are in place congressional Democrats aren't as optimistic about the safety of the twenty twenty election they are doing it again the Democrat controlled house recently passed an election security bill called the safe act which includes requiring voting systems to use voter verified paper ballots Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not put it up for a vote in the Senate citing concerns the safe act would federalize elections a spokesperson for crabs couldn't tell Reuters of his agency was in favor of the bill are not as it can not comment on pending legislation I'm pretty confident that if Russia is going to try something they're going to try it and one of the elections this happening right now or between now and twenty twenty and what I've got to make sure I have is the mechanisms in the frameworks in place that %HESITATION we're doing everything we can to protect the elections of our allies but if we do see activity we can flag it and we can bring it back here I can share that information with the state election director with the state CIO with a local election director CIO says they're prepared there harden in that techniques not going to be successful here but congressional Democrats say that's not enough you know what they're going to be saying come on Fulton interfere with our lecture , ins house and Senate Democrats have condemned president Donald Trump for failing to challenge Russian president Vladimir Putin over the Kremlin's interference in the twenty sixteen election and they harshly criticized his recent sit down with Putin in Osaka Japan for appearing to make light of the scandal that led to the special counsel's investigation into his campaign , McConnell and other Republicans have played down the urgency conveyed by the Democrats saying the twenty eighteen elections were relatively breach free Mitch McConnell may think this is dead on arrival in the Senate we're saying is alive and well in the public house speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will get an election security briefing from administration officials on July tenth as Democrats continue to apply pressure on McConnell to allow votes on any election security bills or to block them on the floor warning lights are blinking red in the meantime the experts in the cyber security and communications integration center at DHS are on the look out for any efforts to subvert U. S. democracy I know what they didn't sixteen or not to let that happen again I know they try to do an eighteen not to let that happen again I don't know what they're gonna doing twenty but I'm gonna try to find out we're going to do everything we can to ensure that that %HESITATION the American people have confidence in when they go to vote that their vote is counted as cast