In recent weeks, intelligence officials have said clearly that Russia will likely meddle again in the 2018 midterm election season—which begins in Texas in less than three weeks. United States election systems, though, have not yet adequately improved defenses since the 2016 presidential election. On Wednesday, House Democrats outlined a last-ditch effort to step up security while there’s still some time. The Congressional Task Force on Election Security—which counts not a single Republican among its members—announced a findings report and new bill outlining a comprehensive plan for funding and enforcing minimum security standards for all US election systems. Three other election security bills have already been introduced, but neither the Senate nor the House has held an election security hearing so far. President Donald Trump’s continuing skepticism that Russia interfered in the 2016 election process has also slowed momentum.
“Regardless of what President Trump believes, there’s no disagreement among security experts that Russia carried out a cyber-enabled influence campaign to meddle in our democratic process,” task force co-chair Bennie Thompson said on Wednesday. “Last week, Trump’s Secretary of State candidly admitted that we are no better prepared to stop Russia than we were in 2016. Time is short. Our 2018 and 2020 elections are just around the corner.”
The group’s proposal outlines 10 recommendations for securing election infrastructure. Some are widely promoted measures, like ensuring that all US voting machines produce voter-verified paper backups, replacing aging machines that are potentially more vulnerable to attack, improving communication between federal and local officials, and offering support so all states can conduct “risk-limiting” statistical audits after elections.