Two House Democrats are pressing their colleagues to allot $400 million for states to upgrade outdated voting equipment and secure their election systems. Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Robert Brady (Pa.) made the appeal in a letter to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee released on Monday. “We know that Russia launched an unprecedented assault on our elections in 2016, targeting 21 states’ voting systems, and we believe this money is necessary to protect our elections from future attack,” wrote the lawmakers. “When a sovereign nation attempts to meddle in our elections, it is an attack on our country,” they wrote. “We cannot leave states to defend against the sophisticated cyber tactics of state actors like Russia on their own.”
Following the recent declaration by the U.S. National Security Agency that Russian hackers tried to infiltrate the electronic voting machines used in the last U.S. presidential election, many people are calling for a lot of things especially for the electronic voting machines to be scrapped. Although the Russians did not succeed, more questions are still left on the table. U.S. senators looking for answers have constituted a committee and is hoping to pass a bipartisan bill called the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act. The bill will enlist help from the Department of Homeland Security to organize an event like the one held at the DEFCON hackers conference in July, themed the “Voting Machine Hacking Village.”
National: Rep. Debbie Dingell’s bill would require paper voting, recounts in close elections | The Hill
A new bill would require states to use voting machines with paper backups and conduct audits in close elections. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced the Safeguarding Election Infrastructure Act on Wednesday, which aims to increase elections security by requiring voting machines funded by the federal Help America Vote Act print a paper receipt of each vote. “Our democracy depends on free and fair elections, and we must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of that process,” said Dingell in a written statement. “The reality is, many of our voting machines have not been updated in nearly two decades and are susceptible to cyberattacks. We know that foreign adversaries pay very close attention to our elections, and until we address these vulnerabilities, our democratic process is at risk,” she said.
Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced a multifaceted election cybersecurity bill Tuesday, including a bug bounty program for systems manufacturers and a grant program for states to upgrade technology. “While the Intelligence Committee’s investigation is still ongoing, one thing is clear: The Russians were very active in trying to influence the 2016 election and will continue their efforts to undermine public confidence in democracies,” said Collins in a statement celebrating the bill. “The fact that the Russians probed the election-related systems of 21 states is truly disturbing, and it must serve as a call to action to assist states in hardening their defenses against foreign adversaries that seek to compromise the integrity of our election process.”
Two senators introduced a new election security bill with the aim of providing assistance to states in order to protect against cyberattacks on voting infrastructure. The bipartisan bill — the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act — was put forward by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). The aim of the bill, according to Collins, is to “assist states in protecting the integrity of their voting systems. “Our bill seeks to facilitate the information sharing of the threats posed to state election systems by foreign adversaries, to provide guidance to states on how to protect their systems against nefarious activity and, for states who choose to do so, to allow them to access some federal grant money to implement best practices to protect their systems,” Collins said on the Senate floor. Collins said that she knew of “no evidence to date that actual vote tabulations were manipulated in any state” during the 2016 U.S. election, but noted that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) found 21 states had election systems probed by Russian hackers.
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.
With the help of Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller on Tuesday made the case on Capitol Hill that Congress must act to end millions of duplicate voter registrations nationwide from state to state. In testimony, Thomas told the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Miller, that federal legislation is needed to clear up the confusion caused when voters maintain an old driver license in one state but declare their voter registration in another state. A pending bill co-sponsored by Miller, former Michigan Secretary of State, and Rep. Todd Rokita, former Indiana Secretary of State, would require new state residents applying for a driver license to notify the state if they intend to use their new residency for the purpose of voting. If so, the legislation would mandate that the new state to notify the applicant’s previous state of residence so its chief election official can update voter lists accordingly.
President Obama has a long agenda for his State of the Union address, but it is important that he not forget the most fundamental democratic reform of all: repairing a broken election system that caused hundreds of thousands of people to stand in line for hours to vote last year. It is time to make good on his election-night promise. Those seeking political power by making voting more inconvenient will resist reforms, but a better system would actually be good for both parties and, more important, the country.Long lines are not the inevitable result of big turnouts in elections. They are the result of neglect, often deliberate, of an antiquated patchwork of registration systems that make it far too hard to get on the rolls. They are the result of states that won’t spend enough money for an adequate supply of voting machines, particularly in crowded cities and minority precincts. And they are the result of refusals to expand early voting programs, one of the best and easiest ways to increase participation.
Long lines on Election Day in Florida and elsewhere spurred a call from President Barack Obama Tuesday for a bipartisan commission “to improve the voting experience” and drew new support for federal legislation aimed at cutting wait times. In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, Obama said that five-, six- and seven-hour voting lines – seen in Florida during the Nov. 6 election and detailed in an Orlando Sentinel analysis – “are betraying our ideals.” He said he has asked experts from his and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns to jointly lead the voting commission. Also Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida declared that he is joining fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer of California as lead sponsors of a bill that would establish a goal that “no American voter has to wait longer than an hour to cast a ballot” in a federal election.
Members of the House on Wednesday rejected a bill to end the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which Republicans said would save $33 million over five years by eliminating a commission who’s primary purpose has been achieved.
Members voted 235-187 in favor of the bill, which was not enough to ensure passage under a suspension of House rules. Suspension votes require the support of two-thirds of all voting members. Every voting Republican supported it, and every voting Democrat opposed it.
The House debated the bill, H.R. 672, Tuesday night. Republicans said the vote would test the willingness of Democrats to support cuts to federal spending, while Democrats argued that the EAC still serves a useful purpose in helping states establish voting standards and test voting equipment.