For a while there, the Senate’s flagship bill to help states improve election security appeared to be gaining steam. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle signed onto it. And an unlikely coalition of former national security officials, technologists and public policy groups urged lawmakers to pass the legislation. But the Secure Elections Act stalled last week after the Senate Rules Committee canceled a key vote on the legislation at the last minute — and now its future is uncertain. Some Republicans who seemed poised to support the bill balked after the White House raised concerns about giving the federal government too much authority in election administration, while state officials objected to some of its requirements. Election security experts, meanwhile, worry the legislation is getting too watered down. The delay highlights the tension at the core of the debate over how to best secure the country’s elections as officials warn about Russia’s ongoing campaign to disrupt U.S. politics. And the lack of progress in Congress underscores how difficult it is for lawmakers to balance competing concerns from state election administrators to national security officials to voting integrity groups.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who introduced the bill with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), said the Secure Elections Act isn’t dead — there are just some kinks to work out.
“This is an important bill that I will not let fail. I look forward to working with Members and groups that have technical concerns with the text … as we continue to walk through its passage,” he told me in an email.
But the hang-up significantly dims hopes the legislation will pass before the November midterms.