Two House Democrats are pressing their colleagues to allot $400 million for states to upgrade outdated voting equipment and secure their election systems. Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Robert Brady (Pa.) made the appeal in a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee released on Monday. “We know that Russia launched an unprecedented assault on our elections in 2016, targeting 21 states’ voting systems, and we believe this money is necessary to protect our elections from future attack,” wrote the lawmakers. “When a sovereign nation attempts to meddle in our elections, it is an attack on our country,” they wrote. “We cannot leave states to defend against the sophisticated cyber tactics of state actors like Russia on their own.”
Thompson and Brady lead a Democratic task force focused on election security, which they formed over the summer after feeling that the committees they sit on were not giving enough attention to the issue of Russian interference. Thompson and Brady serve as the top Democrats on the House Homeland Security and House Administration committees, respectively.
According to U.S. officials, Russia’s efforts included stealing emails from the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, as well as targeting voting systems not involved in vote tabulations in 21 states. Broadly, the targeting mostly involved preparations for hacking, such as probing for vulnerabilities. In Arizona and Illinois, hackers breached voter registration databases.