Bipartisan Bill Aims to Make Election Interference a Federal Crime

June 18, 2019 by Dan McCue
Paul Fraser at the voting booth Tuesday morning June 5, 2018 at the Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School in the City Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Representatives Jim Himes, D-Conn., and John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, have introduced legislation to make election interference a federal crime.

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act would make it a federal crime to hack any voting systems used in a federal election.

According to the Justice Department, current federal law doesn’t directly apply punishments for hacking voting machines that aren’t connected to the internet.

“Every day, our geopolitical rivals are working to infiltrate and interfere with our electoral process,” Representative Himes said in a written statement.

“If we’re not thinking of ways to protect our systems and deter attacks five, ten, fifteen years in the future, we risk falling behind and losing our substantial technological advantage,” he said.

Himes said the bill will expand the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a move the Department of Justice Cyber Task Force has identified as a priority, to prohibit hacking of voting machines.

“I hope that Representative Ratcliffe and I can help set an example with this bill to show the rest of our colleagues that there is an uncontroversial, bipartisan path forward to better protect our nation,” the congressman said.

Ratcliffe said it’s one thing to speak out against the hacking of voting systems, another to take steps to actively deter it.

“We must ensure that those who attempt to interfere in our elections will face strict punishment for their actions,” he said.

“This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s about protecting each American’s right to vote and have their vote count,” Ratcliffe continued. “I’m grateful to be working across the aisle with Representative Himes on legislation that will help us protect our country from the threat of future attacks on our electorate.”

Other co-sponsors of the bill are Reps. Doug Collins, R-Ga., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., Greg Steube, R-Fla., Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Ben Cline, R-Va., and Jim Cooper, D-Tenn.

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