The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is standing up a “Misinformation, Disinformation Governance Board” to help combat election security threats and protect the homeland, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on April 27.
The board will be co-chaired by Undersecretary for Policy Rob Silvers and Principal Deputy General Counsel Jennifer Gaskill, Mayorkas said. Nina Jankowicz – a former disinformation fellow at the Wilson Center – confirmed she will head the board as executive director.
“The goal is to bring the resources of the department together to address this threat,” Mayorkas told lawmakers on April 27 during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to discuss DHS’ fiscal year 2023 budget.
At a separate House Homeland Security Committee hearing later the same day, Mayorkas explained the board is vital to help ensure election security given that “the midterm elections that are upon us and the fundamental integrity of our democratic processes that is at stake.”
Mayorkas said Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly is also helping to lead DHS in this effort to combat misinformation and disinformation.
Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., noted that DHS’ role is vital to combat cyber and election security threats, especially following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its previous attempts to interfere with U.S. elections.
“Your department has significant responsibilities for election security, both in terms of managing the risks to election infrastructure and countering mis- and disinformation that can truly undermine Americans’ confidence in the electoral process,” Rep. Langevin said during the House Homeland Security hearing.
“I have confidence in [the] great leadership at CISA and Director Easterly and the work that she’s doing as well, but I wanted to focus on the fact that Russia obviously has attempted to interfere with U.S. elections before,” he added. “I truly believe that we actually have to prepare now more than ever to redouble those efforts given what’s going on in Ukraine that could be in retaliation for the punishing sanctions that the U.S. enacted for Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
Secretary Mayorkas assured Rep. Langevin that the threat is one of DHS’ “priority areas,” and that the Misinformation, Disinformation Governance Board will “more effectively combat this threat not only to election security but to our homeland security.”