In the wake of Russia's cyberattacks aimed at influencing the November presidential election, the United States said is it designating election infrastructure such as voting machines as "critical" for national security.
The designation on January 6 ensures that the 50 U.S. states, which currently control the voting process, can get help from the federal government to protect their systems from attempted intrusions by foreign governments and other hackers in the future.
Hackers are believed to have targeted the voter registration systems of more than 20 states in the months before the election.
"Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure," that needs special protection, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said.
The announcement came after a declassified U.S. intelligence report found that Russian President Vladimir Putin "ordered" an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at helping to elect Donald Trump, who ran on strengthening ties with Russia.
The report said that Russian intelligence services "obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local electoral boards," though none of the compromised systems was involved in vote tallying.