For more than a year, Americans, Congress and the world have discussed Russia’s attempts to influence our elections. However, some of their most dangerous and well-documented attacks against state-level voting systems have been a mere footnote. That needs to change, and change fast. Let’s start with the facts and when we learned them. In the summer of 2016, the FBI disclosed that Arizona’s and Illinois’ online voter registration databases had been successfully breached. Come September 2016, we learned that at least 20 states had been attacked. We now know that 21 states were attacked and/or breached: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
In my home state of Illinois, Russian-backed hackers accessed more than 80,000 voter files, and certainly some of these voters are my constituents. I, like all lawmakers, have an obligation to get answers for those families.
In July 2017, Congress overwhelmingly passed strong sanctions against Russia, in part because of these state-level attacks. Just five members of Congress out of 522 voted against these sanctions.
To date, President Trump has refused to implement these bipartisan sanctions, and his Treasury Department publicly admitted that it lifted Forbes’ list of the 200 richest Russian businessmen in their half-hearted “name and shame list.”