Senators are trying to pass legislation aimed at securing U.S. election systems from cyberattacks by inserting the measure into annual defense policy legislation. Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have introduced a new version of the Secure Elections Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the upper chamber is poised to take up next week. The lawmakers, backed by a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, originally introduced the legislation last December amid rising fears over threats to voter registration databases and other digital systems as a result of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
According to U.S. officials, Russian hackers targeted election-related systems in 21 states as part of its plot to meddle in the 2016 vote.
Since, Lankford and Klobuchar have been working with state election officials to revise the legislation. Some state officials have been wary of federal efforts to address election security, fearing a federal takeover of elections, which have historically been administered by states.
“The security of our election systems is a major national security issue, and it is appropriate for this legislation to be included in the National Defense Authorization Act,” Lankford said in a statement. “This legislation will help states prepare our election infrastructure for the possibility of interference from Russia, Iran, North Korea, or a domestic hacktivist group.”