A pair of comprehensive, complimentary election infrastructure reform bills, which will be first introduced Wednesday in the House of Representatives, seeks to take all voting machines offline, offers funding for election cybersecurity research and mandates the use of paper ballots across the U.S. by 2018, FedScoop has learned. These two pieces of legislation — named the “Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016” and the “Election Integrity Act,” respectively — are being sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., a lawmaker whose constituents will rely on paperless ballots to cast their votes in November’s presidential election. “In the wake of the DNC server hack and well-documented efforts by states to suppress the vote, citizens are rightly concerned,” Johnson said in a statement. “We must work to reduce the vulnerability of our crucial voting systems, protect the security and integrity of our electoral process, and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to vote.”
The Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016 will require the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, to designate voting systems as critical infrastructure — an important reclassification move already under consideration by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson. In practice, this change would result in a budget adjustment that puts election systems on par with power grid protection.
Notably, the Election Infrastructure Act will seek to compel states to comply with relevant federal rules while incorporating additional security standards and testing measures. Under the rule, the National Science Foundation will be required to stand up a nondescript election technology development program.
Meanwhile, the Election Integrity Act specifically prohibits “election systems responsible for vote casting or tabulating” from being connected to the internet. It would also work to limit the purchase of any new voting systems that do not provide “voter-verified paper ballots,” and propose protocols designed in the case of a voting system failure. $600 million in new funding is being requested to ensure that these processes are executed in FY 2017 and 2018. … Data analyzed by Reuters and collected via the U.S. Census Bureau, Election Assistance Commission and Verified Voting Foundation reveal that 44 million registered voters, or roughly 25 percent of the current national total, live in jurisdictions that will use paperless systems come November.