Mac Warner
Mac Warner
West Virginia Secretary of State

Wood, Warner, Allen, Hooper

Pictured (l to r) are Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood, Hon. Mac Warner, Rotarian David Gilpin, and John Hoover. Hoover is Special Asst. to the Secretary.

Lannom, Wiseman, Harris, Conley

Rotarians Andrea Lannom and Ellis Conley welcome guests Cindy Wiseman and Julie Harris. Pictured (l to r) are Lannom, Wiseman, Harris and Conley. Harris is Information & Events Specialist for the Chamber of Commerce; Wiseman is with AEP as Manager for External Affairs.

Secretary Mac Warner
'Elections designated as a critical infrastructure for national security'

October 24, 2017

"This Russian hacking situation is real," Secretary Mac Warner told Putnam Rotarians today. "How serious is it? We don't know yet. But something serious happened right before the election last year.

"I can tell you that because Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, six days six days before he left office, designated elections as a critical infrastructure," Warner said.

"And General John Kelly, the new secretary, validated Johnson's decision.

"Two different administrations, on both sides of the political spectrum,, were both saying elections was a critical infrastructure." This means that a crisis in the election process could affect the national security of the United States.

"I can assure you that there is not a shred of evidence of any vote being changed anywhere in the United States," Warner continued. "The message I want you to help carry to the public at large is that our elections are safe.

"They're being attacked. [Hackers] are trying to penetrate. The penetration that has occurred so far has been in the voter registration area, not in the voting. They haven't been able to penetrate and change the vote.

"They have gotten into databases [in some other states] on the voter registration side.

"There is an allegation [in one instance] they changed some Rs to Ds and some Ds to Rs. So if you were a Democrat, and you went in to vote and you said hand me the Democrat ballot, they would hand you the Republican ballot and say you were registered as a Republican.

"You say, 'I don't want to vote as a Republican,' so they hand you a provisional ballot, and the county commission gets to say whether your vote counts.or not.

"None of us wants somebody else to determine whether our vote counts.

"This is the kind of uncertainty that the Russians are trying to inject into our election process.

"And if they can undermine our democracy to the point where you say, 'I don't want to register; I don't want my information out there where it can be hacked,' then we have uprooted confidence. And that's what they are trying to do right now.

"It's a psychological operation they're trying to wage in democracies across the globe. They actually got into Ukraine's database. They've done it in Sweden, and Denmark, and Germany, and several other places in the European continent.

"So that's what the Russians are up to. We have reason to be concerned about our election security. We don't have reason to be concerned about vote changing, but we have to protect it."

As West Virginia's Secretary of State, Warner is responsible for oversight of the state's election procedures, including investigation of irregularities reported.

Under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, each state manages its own elections, and Warner joins other state election officers who want to keep it that way.

"We're saying, 'federal government, stay out,' because we don't want you regulating our business like you are regulating the power industry.

"We don't want you to come in and start giving us regulations and inspections and standardizing the election process.

"We say if you have 'one-size-fits-all' it makes it more likely for the Russians to be able to be able to hack, because if once they hack it, they affect all the United States.

"Right now, they have to get inside fifty different election systems.

"I have been working with people nationwide where they have been pulling together, not just in government."

Brian Wood, Putnam's County Clerk, commended Warner's support In maintenance of voter registration files. Wood is also working with the Secretary's office to register new voters through "Inspire West Virginia," which includes visits to local high schools.

During a 23-year career with the military, Warner served as as Chief of International Law for the United States Army in Europe and as an instructor at the Judge Advocate General's School.

A West Point graduate, the retired Lt. Col. holds law degrees from the WVU College of Law, and the University of Virginia.

"I want security clearance now so I can talk to [Department of Homeland Security] and say, 'What is in the hacking that is going on? What is the hack platform they are using to get inside the election process? Is it just the registrations? Are they actually trying to change votes?'"

When not managing election duties, Secretary Warner keeps registrations of businesses, charities, and notaries public, for West Virginia. This includes more than 105,000 businesses in the state.


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