As misinformation campaigns and cyberattacks threaten to undermine democracy around the world, lawmakers want the State Department to play a bigger role in helping other countries secure their elections. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, on Tuesday reintroduced legislation that would create a program at State to share information about election threats with other countries. Through the Global Electoral Exchange Program, the department would assist allies in adopting best practices around election cybersecurity, transparency and auditing. It would support work to combat misinformation campaigns and end discriminatory voter registration practices. An earlier version of the bill passed the House in September but was never put to a vote in the Senate. “Our election systems—and those of our allies—have become a target for foreign adversaries,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Safeguarding our democracies must be a priority for us all.”
The legislation would also allow the agency to support nonprofit groups that are involved in efforts to support international election integrity.
Under the bill, State would award grants to groups that bring foreign election officials and polling workers to the U.S. to study election procedures. It would also open up funds to send U.S. officials to study the election processes of other democratic countries.
The Rules and Foreign Relations committees for both chambers of Congress would have oversight of the program, and the Secretary of State would be required to submit a report on the program’s activities every two years.
The bill comes amid a growing push for the international community to agree on rules of the road for cyberspace and information warfare.