The Department of Homeland Security has hired the former commissioner of the agency tasked with assisting states’ voting security efforts to be a new cyber security adviser, following pushback from lawmakers on the department’s ability to address future election interference.

Matthew Masterson, who served as a lead official with the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) since December 2014, will join DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) as a senior cyber security adviser.

Matthew Masterson, former EAC commissioner and current DHS cyber security advisor.
Matthew Masterson, former EAC commissioner and current DHS cyber security advisor.

“There are few who have Matt’s experience working with all levels of government and the private sector to protect our nation’s election systems. His wealth of experience and depth of knowledge make him highly respected on both sides of the aisle,” Chris Krebs, the NPPD’s senior cyber security official, said in a statement.

In his new role, Masterson is expected to perform similar duties to his time with the EAC, including assisting state and local election officials with steps needed to protect their voting infrastructure.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee at a March 21 hearing pressed DHS leadership on their department’s role in combating Russian election interference in the 2016 elections and what is being done to ensure voting systems, now deemed critical infrastructure, are protected ahead of the 2018 midterms (Defense Daily, March 21).

Lawmakers have previously questioned DHS’ decision to wait nearly a year to inform officials in 21 states that their election systems faced hacking attempts in 2016 (Defense Daily, Feb. 20).

“Matt is one of the most equipped to advise on this non-partisan issue and will be an asset to the organization. In a time where technology is constantly evolving, it is more important than ever that DHS maintains productive and trusted relationships with our partners,” Krebs said.

Masterson’s EAC commissioner term ended in December 2017, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) decided not to renew him for another four-year term.

The move received some pushback from lawmakers who viewed Masterson as helping state and local officials with steps needed to secure their voting systems, according to a Feb. 22 Politico report.