A bipartisan coalition of Senate lawmakers introduced legislation on Thursday meant to strengthen U.S. election cybersecurity following Russian election interference. The bill would authorize block grants for states to upgrade outdated voting technology. It would also create a program for an independent panel of experts to develop cybersecurity guidelines for election systems that states can implement if they choose, and offer states resources to implement the recommendations. In addition, the legislation aims to expedite the process by which state officials receive security clearances necessary to review sensitive threat information and instructs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal entities to more quickly share this information with relevant state officials. The “Secure Elections Act” was introduced Thursday morning by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).
“We must do everything in our power to protect our democracy from future attacks,” they wrote. “Time is of the essence, the next federal election is less than a year away.”
The bill’s path forward is uncertain, though its bipartisan backing could bode well for its passage. Other measures focused on election security have not gotten a vote.
Lawmakers are currently laser-focused on cementing a deal to fund the government before the holidays, ahead of a looming Dec. 22 deadline.