National: House panel approves $408 million boost for CISA | FCW

The House Appropriations Committee approved a $63.8 billion spending package for the Department of Homeland Security that includes higher funding levels for the department’s top cyber agency. The bill allocates approximately $2 billion for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a $335 million bump from last year and $408 million above what was requested in the president’s budget. Lawmakers in both parties have expressed support over the past year for the idea of providing CISA with more resources to carry out its cybersecurity mission. “This 20% funding increase will help the new agency move faster to improve our cyber and infrastructure defense capabilities,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal Allard (D-Calif.), chair of the House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee.

National: Even a voting machine company is pushing for election security legislation | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

A major voting machine vendor reversed course Friday and urged Congress to pass legislation mandating paper trails for all votes as an anti-hacking protection. The company, Election Systems & Software, also pledged to no longer sell paperless voting machines as the primary voting device in an election jurisdiction and urged Congress to mandate security testing of voting equipment by outside researchers. That promise was made in an op-ed from chief executive Tom Burt published in Roll Call. Burt called such a move “essential to the future of America” and vital for restoring “the general public’s faith in the process of casting a ballot” after the 2016 election was marred by Russian attempts to hack into election systems. The call marks a major about face for ES&S, which, as recently as September, lashed out at researchers who publicly tested its voting machines for hackable vulnerabilities at the annual Def Con hackers conference. The move also comes, however, as chances look extremely slim for any election security legislation to make it out of Congress this year because of fierce opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

National: Protecting the integrity of US elections will require a massive regulatory overhaul, academics say | Jonathan Shieber/TechCrunch

Ahead of the 2020 elections, former Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos and his colleagues at Stanford University have unveiled a sweeping new plan to secure U.S. electoral infrastructure and combat foreign campaigns seeking to interfere in U.S. politics. As the Mueller investigation into electoral interference made clear, foreign agents from Russia (and elsewhere) engaged in a strategic campaign to influence the 2016 U.S. elections. As the chief security officer of Facebook at the time, Stamos was both a witness to the influence campaign on social media and a key architect of the efforts to combat its spread. Along with Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia, and a host of other academics from Stanford, Stamos lays out a multi-pronged plan that incorporates securing U.S. voting systems, providing clearer guidelines for advertising and the operations of foreign media in the U.S. and integrating government action more closely with media and social media organizations to combat the spread of misinformation or propaganda by foreign governments.

National: Finally, a Top Voting Machine Maker Is Calling for Stronger Election Security Laws | Patrick Howell O’Neill/Gizmodo

Over the last few decades, the state of American election cybersecurity has been excoriated by hackers who hope to fix a host of glaring problems before the entire system is exploited. Voting machine makers as an industry have long pushed back against security and transparency efforts until, suddenly, this week. Tom Burt is the CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S), one of the biggest voting machine manufacturers in the United States. Last year, hackers gathered at the Def Con conference in Las Vegas to test the security of voting machines. While Burt’s company criticized the hackers and suggested the threat against their machines was minimal and “extremely unlikely,” the event was punctuated by an 11-year-old changing voting results and researchers finding a decade-old security flaw in an ES&S ballot counting machine used across the United States.

National: Leading voting-machine vendor vows to ditch paperless voting | Timothy B. Lee/Ars Technica

Election Systems & Software, which describes itself as the nation’s leading elections-equipment provider, has vowed to stop selling paperless electronic voting systems—at least as the “primary voting device in a jurisdiction.” And the company is calling on Congress to pass legislation mandating paper ballots and raising security standards for voting machines. “Congress must pass legislation establishing a more robust testing program—one that mandates that all voting-machine suppliers submit their systems to stronger, programmatic security testing conducted by vetted and approved researchers,” writes ES&S CEO Tom Burt in an op-ed for Roll Call. Over the last 18 months, election-security advocates have been pushing for new legislation shoring up the nation’s election infrastructure. Election-security reform proposals enjoy significant support among Democrats—who control the House of Representatives—and have picked up some Republican co-sponsors, too. However, such measures have faced hostility from the White House and from the Republican leadership of the Senate. “I don’t think there is any likelihood that we are going to move a bill that federalizes more of the election process,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate leadership team, last week.

National: Russia’s 2016 election interference was highly organized, but fixes for 2020 are possible: reports | Bradley Barth/SC Magazine

The campaign by Russia’s Internet Research Agency to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election using fake Twitter accounts was even organized than many people realize, according to a new report from Symantec Corporation. But another new report from scholars at Stanford University prescribes more than 45 policy recommendations for how the U.S. can prevent a repeat performance of Russian meddling in 2020. The latter report, titled “Securing American Elections” represents the culmination of a study conducted by a team of scholars with expertise in areas such as cybersecurity, social media, election regulations, Russia and more. The recommendations are subdivided into seven categories: bolstering election infrastructure, regulating online political ads from foreign entities, countering election manipulation by foreign media, fighting state-sanctioned disinformation campaigns, improving transparency of foreign involvement in U.S. elections, establishing norms, and deterring future attacks.

National: McConnell Blocking Plans to Prevent Russian Election Attack | Jonathan Chait/New York Magazine

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings today on the Mueller report and its devastating findings of the Trump campaign efforts to collude with Russia, and Trump’s obstruction of justice thereof. The Republican message, articulated by ranking member Doug Collins, is that this is all in the distant past — the Mueller report came out in early spring; it’s already late spring — and we should focus on the future. “We’re not bringing Russians front and center,” he complained. “If we were attacked, then the priorities should be to go on the battlefields and not to the sideshow.” Funny thing about that: There actually are a lot of bills to safeguard the 2020 elections from the next Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is blocking all of them.

National: 5 steps to critical infrastructure collaboration | Randy James/FCW

The days of simply protecting critical infrastructure with guns, gates and guards or combating cyber threats solely with IT data and network protection are fleeting. Today’s threats are many and varied, as our physical and digital worlds become increasingly interconnected. They stretch all the way from contested regions around the globe back to the U.S. homeland — a country that is no longer the sanctuary it once was. Emerging threats — including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, information warfare against our election system, cyberattacks targeting both defense and civilian networks and even the recent Huawei indictments — put our nation’s military capability, critical infrastructure, democratic institutions and even the safety of everyday civilians at risk. In today’s threat landscape, our national defense strategy must incorporate a new, more robust and integrated “whole-of-nation” approach to homeland security. The plan must coordinate the assessment of defense and homeland security threats and synchronize how we address civilian critical infrastructure security and military mission assurance interdependencies. But the million-dollar question among government and industry leaders is not why we must adopt this approach — it’s how.

National: New Election Security Bills Face a One-Man Roadblock: Mitch McConnell | Nicholas Fandos/The New York Times

A raft of legislation intended to better secure United States election systems after what the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, called a “sweeping and systematic” Russian attack in 2016 is running into a one-man roadblock in the form of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The bills include a Democratic measure that would send more than $1 billion to state and local governments to tighten election security, but would also demand a national strategy to protect American democratic institutions against cyberattacks and require that states spend federal funds only on federally certified “election infrastructure vendors.” A bipartisan measure in both chambers would require internet companies like Facebook to disclose the purchasers of political ads. Another bipartisan Senate proposal would codify cyberinformation-sharing initiatives between federal intelligence services and state election officials, speed up the granting of security clearances to state officials and provide federal incentives for states to adopt paper ballots. But even bipartisan coalitions have begun to crumble in the face of the majority leader’s blockade. Mr. McConnell, long the Senate’s leading ideological opponent to federal regulation of elections, has told colleagues in recent months that he has no plans to consider stand-alone legislation on the matter this term, despite clamoring from members of his own conference and the growing pressure from Democrats who also sense a political advantage in trying to make the Republican response to Russia’s election attack look anemic.

National: Election Security Is Still Hurting at Every Level | Lily Hay Newman/WIRED

The Russian meddling that rocked the 2016 US presidential election gave the public a full view of something officials and advocates have warned about for years: weak voting infrastructure and election systems around the US, and a lack of political will and funding to strengthen them. Two and a half years later, real progress has been made in key areas. But with a new presidential election less than 18 months away, glaring systemic risks remain. Many of those inadequacies show up in a new report from the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, which breaks down the threats facing the 2020 election and beyond, and proposes paths to managing them. But as the report also makes clear, many of those necessary steps will not be completed before 2020. Smooth-running elections will require a clear-eyed view of those lingering deficiencies.

National: Stanford group calls for major overhaul on election security. Here are their recommendations | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

A plan released this week by a Stanford University group that includes former top government and tech industry officials aims to be the equivalent of the 9/11 Commission report for election security. Like the 9/11 report, which fundamentally reorganized the nation’s homeland security and intelligence structure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “Securing American Elections” aims big. It argues Russia’s 2016 election interference operation was an attack on fundamental American values, and should provoke the government and private sector to step up “defenses against efforts to erode confidence in democracy.”  The report’s 108 pages include 45 recommendations ranging from securing voting systems and combating online disinformation campaigns to negotiating major election security norms with allies and punishing adversaries who violate them. Like the 9/11 commission leaders who spent years pushing the government to fully implement their reforms amid partisan bickering, this group is preparing for a fierce lobbying campaign to turn its recommendations into reality, said Nate Persily, a report author and director of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.

National: House subcommittee approves funding bill with $600 million for election security | Maggie Miller/The Hill

A House Appropriations subcommittee approved a bill Monday night that includes $600 million in funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) meant for states to bolster election security, with the money specifically earmarked for states to buy voting systems with “voter-verified paper ballots.” The approval comes as recent remarks by special counsel Robert Mueller emphasizing the dangers posed by foreign interference in U.S. election systems injected new life into the election security debate on Capitol Hill. The Senate already approved a bill Monday night to ban foreign individuals who meddle in U.S. elections from entering the country. The funds are part of the Financial Services fiscal 2020 budget, and were approved by voice vote by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The bill now goes to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.

National: Election Rules Are an Obstacle to Cybersecurity of Presidential Campaigns | Nicole Perlroth and Matthew Rosenberg/The New York Times

One year out from the 2020 elections, presidential candidates face legal roadblocks to acquiring the tools and assistance necessary to defend against the cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns that plagued the 2016 presidential campaign. Federal laws prohibit corporations from offering free or discounted cybersecurity services to federal candidates. The same law also blocks political parties from offering candidates cybersecurity assistance because it is considered an “in-kind donation.” The issue took on added urgency this week after lawyers for the Federal Election Commission advised the commission to block a request by a Silicon Valley company, Area 1 Security, which sought to provide services to 2020 presidential candidates at a discount. The commission questioned Area 1 about its request at a public meeting on Thursday, and asked the company to refile the request with a simpler explanation of how it would determine what campaigns qualified for discounted services. Cybersecurity and election experts say time is running out for campaigns to develop tough protections.

National: DHS needs help peeking into state and local networks, cybersecurity official says | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

A top federal cybersecurity official said Wednesday the Department of Homeland Security often lacks a clear picture of state and local governments’ network security, even as foreign adversaries increase their attempts to disrupt all levels of the public sector. And while federal agencies are getting better at working with state and local authorities, they face an ongoing challenge of staying ahead of an evolving threat landscape. “We don’t have good visibility in the state and local dot-gov [domain],” Rick Driggers, the deputy assistant director for cybersecurity at DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency, said at FedScoop’s FedTalks event in Washington. Driggers said one of the most immediate steps state and local governments can take is to enact more robust information sharing with federal cybersecurity authorities. He said hackers, especially those backed by foreign governments, have increased their focus on state and local governments, raising the threat that a local population could suffer the brunt of a successful cyberattack.

National: NGA selects six states for election cybersecurity policy academy | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The National Governors Association announced Wednesday the six states that will participate in the organization’s latest cybersecurity policy academy. Officials from Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada and Virginia will spend the next six months studying election security to come up with plans and practices to protect the integrity of their voting systems ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The NGA has convened the cybersecurity policy academies, which are run by the group’s Homeland Security and Public Safety division, since 2016. Last year’s program — which included Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin — focused broadly on IT security, ultimately producing a set of recommendations for greater collaboration between state and local governments.

National: States, experts ask EAC for more flexibility in voting machine standards | Derek B. Johnson/FCW

State officials and security experts say security updates contained in the Election Assistance Commission’s new Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 are badly needed, but there is concern that the bureaucratic process the agency has set up to approve and update those standards can’t keep up with the pace of technological change. Later this year, the commission is expected to vote to approve a five-page document outlining principles that will guide the development of VVSG 2.0, including a new emphasis on security. That process will be followed up with far more detailed technical guidance and standards that companies will rely on to design their new voting machines. At a May 21 hearing, the commission heard from a number of stakeholders who advised that the agency refrain from requiring a full vote to approve the technical portions of the guidelines, saying it would run counter to the goal of ensuring that voting machine standards account for the latest developments in technology.

National: Democratic base fired up by effort to ban Internet-connected voting machines | Joseph Marks/The Washington Post

As the 2020 election approaches, voting security groups are trying to rally the public behind an effort to ban Internet connections from U.S. voting machines that could be hacked by Russia and other foreign adversaries. And they’re getting an assist from activists on the left, who are still burned by the 2016 election, when Russia hacked troves of Democratic emails and strategically released them to damage the Hillary Clinton campaign. The joint effort has resulted in a staggering number of people — 50,000 — submitting comments on the issue to the Election Assistance Commission, a federal body that’s rewriting voluntary guidelines for voting machines, the organizing groups told me. The fact that a topic this technical can be an effective rallying cry for tens of thousands of people underscores that election security has become an increasingly pivotal issue in the 2020 contest — and tangible proof it’s resonating with a Democratic base that fears Russia, which sought to help the Trump campaign in 2016, might try to deliver the president a second term.

National: Voatz has raised $7 million in Series A funding for its mobile voting technology | Connie Loizos/TechCrunch

Voatz, the four-year-old, Boston, Mass.-based voting and citizen engagement platform that has been at the center of debate over the merits and dangers of mobile voting, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. The round was co-led by Medici Ventures and Techstars, with participation from Urban Innovation Fund and Oakhouse Partners. Voatz, which currently employs 17 people, is modeled after other software-as-a-service companies but geared toward election jurisdictions, working with state and local governments to conduct elections and provide related election management and cybersecurity services. As we reported back in March, the city of Denver agreed to implement a mobile voting pilot in its May municipal election using Voatz’s technology, an opportunity that was offered exclusively to active-duty military, their eligible dependents and overseas voters using their smartphones.

National: ES&S reverses position on election security, promises paper ballots | Zack Whittaker/TechCrunch

Voting machine maker ES&S has said it “will no longer sell” paperless voting machines as the primary device for casting ballots in a jurisdiction. ES&S chief executive Tom Burt confirmed the news in an op-ed. TechCrunch understands the decision was made around the time that four senior Democratic lawmakers demanded to know why ES&S, and two other major voting machine makers, were still selling decade-old machines known to contain security flaws. Burt’s op-ed said voting machines “must have physical paper records of votes” to prevent mistakes or tampering that could lead to improperly cast votes. Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a bill a year ago that would mandate voter-verified paper ballots for all election machines. The chief executive also called on Congress to pass legislation mandating a stronger election machine testing program. Burt’s remarks are a sharp turnaround from the company’s position just a year ago, in which the election systems maker drew ire from the security community for denouncing vulnerabilities found by hackers at the annual Defcon conference.

National: FEC allows nonprofit to provide free cybersecurity services to campaigns | Shannon Vavra/CyberScoop

The Federal Election Commission has decided that a nonprofit spinoff of Harvard’s Defending Digital Democracy Project may provide free and low-cost cybersecurity services to political campaigns without violating campaign finance laws, given the fact that there is a “highly unusual and serious threat” posed to U.S. elections by foreign adversaries. The driving force behind the FEC’s advisory opinion, which FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub issued Tuesday, is the fact that there is a “demonstrated, currently enhanced threat of foreign cyberattacks against party and candidate committees,” she writes in the advisory. The nonprofit, Defending Digital Campaigns, has political campaign veterans Matt Rhoades and Robby Mook among its board members, as well as former National Security Agency executive Debora Plunkett. In the ruling, Weintraub notes the FEC’s decision is partly due to the other efforts by the government, primarily to expose and prosecute foreign adversaries, that she indicates have not done enough to protect campaigns and political parties.

National: Election Assistance Commission staff ‘strained to the breaking point’ | Christopher Bing/Reuters

As the U.S. government prepares to defend the 2020 presidential election from cyber threats, the federal agency charged with helping administer elections, the Election Assistance Commission, says it is “strained to the breaking point,” according to Chairwoman Christy McCormick. “Obviously we’re a very small agency and quite under funded,” McCormick said on Wednesday during a…

National: Trump not doing enough to thwart Russian 2020 meddling, experts say | Peter Stone/The Guardian

Intelligence warnings are growing that Russia will probably meddle in the 2020 elections, but Donald Trump and a powerful Senate ally are downplaying these concerns and not doing enough to thwart interfering, say Russia and cyber experts and key congressional Democrats. Despite fears that Moscow may seek to influence the 2020 elections by launching cyber attacks, social media disinformation, covert agent operations and other “active measures” as it did in the 2016 election, adequate funding and White House focus to counter any new Russian meddling are lagging, experts and officials say. Election security concerns that critics say require more resources and attention include: a paper ballot system to replace or backup electronic voting machines vulnerable to hacking; more resources and attention for cybersecurity programs at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); a requirement that campaigns report to the FBI any contacts with foreign nationals; and a strong public commitment from the president to an interference-free election. Federal efforts to beef up election security, critics say, have been undercut by Trump’s apparent willingness to accept Russian president Vladimir Putin’s word that the country did not interfere in 2016, and Trump’s slighting of intelligence community conclusions about Russian meddling.

National: NGA selects six states for election cybersecurity policy academy | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

The National Governors Association announced Wednesday the six states that will participate in the organization’s latest cybersecurity policy academy. Officials from Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Nevada and Virginia will spend the next six months studying election security to come up with plans and practices to protect the integrity of their voting systems ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The NGA has convened the cybersecurity policy academies, which are run by the group’s Homeland Security and Public Safety division, since 2016. Last year’s program — which included Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin — focused broadly on IT security, ultimately producing a set of recommendations for greater collaboration between state and local governments. The 2019 academy will focus more closely on issues related to election security, from building protections around voter registration databases to developing better communications between agencies. Participants will include governors’ office staffers, election directors and statewide cabinet agencies, the NGA said.

National: Technology has made voting lines move faster but also made elections less secure | Miles Parks/NPR

From 8 a.m. to noon on Election Day last November, voting in Johnson County, Ind., ground to a halt. Lines at precincts across the county, just south of Indianapolis, swelled. Some voters waited hours to cast a ballot; some left furious that they were unable to do so. “People weren’t happy. People had to leave and go to work,” said Cindy Rapp, the Democratic member on Johnson County’s election board. The county votes on electronic voting machines, which don’t provide a paper trail — something cybersecurity experts vehemently warn against. But those machines weren’t what caused the issue in November. Instead, the problem came from the computer system, known as an electronic poll book, that poll workers were using to check people in. Increasingly, more and more states and voting jurisdictions are using these systems to speed up and improve in-person voting. According to federal data, nearly half of all voters who voted in person in 2016 signed in at their polling place using an electronic poll book. That’s up from 27 percent just one presidential election prior. Like many issues surrounding elections, moving from paper to a digital process may bring convenience, but it also brings big questions about security and reliability.

National: Republicans make alleged conservative bias top priority at election security hearing | Cat Zakrzewski/The Washington Post

Google, Facebook and Twitter executives came to Capitol Hill to testify about election security. Instead they faced a grilling about whether their platforms are biased against conservatives. A string of Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee skipped questions about how the companies were tackling disinformation campaigns or preventing Russians from purchasing political ads on their platforms in the run-up to the 2020 election. They were more interested in whether Facebook and Twitter were “shadow-banning” — quietly blocking or restricting — conservatives’ accounts on their platform. “The minute you start putting your hand on the scale of freedom and justice to tilt it one way or another, quite frankly we’ve got to act as members of Congress,” warned Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). The technology executives vehemently denied that they engage in shadow banning. There is no evidence that the platforms have been systematically biased against one political party.

National: U.S. House bill would require feds to notify public of election hacking | Benjamin Freed/StateScoop

Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida said Thursday they will introduce a bill that would require federal officials to inform Congress, state and local authorities and the public if an election-related computer system is hacked. The measure, from Democrat Stephanie Murphy and Republican Michael Waltz, comes as a response to federal authorities’ refusal to publicly name the two Florida counties where voter registration databases were successfully breached by Russian military intelligence hackers during the 2016 presidential election. Under the bill, text of which has not yet been released, federal law enforcement and cybersecurity authorities who detect unlawful access of election systems would be required to “promptly” notify the relevant state and local officials, as well as members of Congress representing the targeted jurisdiction. In turn, state and local officials would be obligated to notify any potentially affected voters.

National: Mueller remarks put renewed focus on election security bills | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Legislation aimed at securing U.S. elections got an unexpected shot in the arm this week when Robert Mueller devoted a fair share of his first remarks on the Russia probe to the threat posed by foreign actors seeking to undermine democracy at the ballot box. Election security bills have been languishing in Congress for months, due in large part to Republicans who do not want to shine a light on Russia’s actions and risk the fury of President Trump. The president weighed in on the issue Thursday, telling reporters that “we are doing a lot, and we are trying to do paper ballots as a backup system as much as possible, because going to good old-fashioned paper in this modern age is the best way to do it.” Those remarks came after he said Russia did not help him secure the presidency — his first on-camera response to Mueller’s comments, though he tweeted earlier in the day that Russia helped him win the election. The president’s comments came a day after Mueller shined a spotlight on Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Mueller emphasized that “the central allegation of our indictments” was “there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election.” He ended his 10-minute statement by saying this “deserves the attention of every American.”

National: Keeping voting security standards from bureaucracy | Derek B. Johnson/GCN

Although the security updates to the Election Assistance Commission’s new Voluntary Voting System Guidelines 2.0 are sorely needed, its approval and updating process can’t keep up with the technological changes. Later this year, the full commission is expected to vote to approve a five-page document outlining principles that will guide the development of VVSG 2.0, including a new emphasis on security. At a May 21 hearing, however, a number of stakeholders advised the agency to refrain from requiring a full vote to approve the technical portions of the guidelines, saying it could keep the latest technology from being incorporated into voting machine standards. “We cannot wait weeks or months for a decision on a federal level when there’s a need to act immediately,” Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said. “I’m asking all of you to have a dialogue about what happens if we run into that situation again when there is not a full quorum on the EAC. How will decisions be made, and will that make it more difficult for state election officials to protect the security and integrity of the vote?”

National: Top Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on any election security bills | Maggie Miller/The Hill

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of Senate GOP leadership, said Wednesday that the chamber is unlikely to vote on any election security legislation, despite requests from a federal agency for more funding to improve election systems nationwide. Blunt made the remarks at a Senate Rules Committee hearing where Election Assistance Commission (EAC) officials highlighted what they said is an urgent need for more resources. His comments were in response to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) pointedly asking during the hearing whether the Rules Committee, chaired by Blunt, would mark up any election security bills already introduced this Congress. “At this point I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up,” Blunt said. When Durbin asked why that was the case, Blunt said, “I think the majority leader is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion. And frankly, I think the extreme nature of H.R. 1 from the House makes it even less likely we are going to have that debate.”

National: Americans may vote in 2020 using old, unsecured machines | Gopal Ratnam/Roll Call

The first primary in the 2020 presidential race is a little more than 250 days away, but lawmakers and experts worry that elections will be held on voting machines that are woefully outdated and that any tampering by adversaries could lead to disputed results. Although states want to upgrade their voting systems, they don’t have the money to do so, election officials told lawmakers last week. Overhauling the nation’s election systems would mean injecting as much as $1 billion in federal grants that would then be supplemented by states, but top Senate Republicans have said they are unlikely to take up any election security bills or give more money to the states. The deadlock could mean that even as federal government and private companies spend tens of billions of cybersecurity dollars annually to protect their computers and networks from attacks, the cornerstone of American democracy could remain vulnerable in the upcoming elections.