Concerned that Russian efforts to interfere with American elections “continue to this very day,” Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday that the nation must beef up security to fend off cyberattacks by foreign hackers. The Maine Republican said if an adversary succeeded in compromising a U.S. election, it would “undermine public confidence in free and fair elections, a bedrock of our democracy.” Collins and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, introduced legislation this week they hope can stave off foreign meddling with American election systems. Collins told colleagues on the Senate floor Thursday that foreign hackers with ties to Russia were probing voter databases during last year’s presidential election in many states and succeeded in accessing them twice.
Though there’s no evidence the hackers manipulated vote tallies or changed voter registration data, the prospect that someone could has alarmed many officials, including the Department of Homeland Security and many members of Congress.
Collins, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating Russia’s role in last year’s election, said at least 21 states were targeted by Russian government-backed hackers.