Comprehensive Election Security Legislation Introduced by House Committee Chairs

May 10, 2019 by Dan McCue

Democrats on two House committees and a key House task force Friday introduced legislation they say will help protect next year’s elections from malevolent attacks and foreign interference.

The Bill, H.R. 2660, otherwise known as the Election Security Act, was introduced by Representatives Bennie Thompson, D-Miss, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security; Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration; and John Sarbanes, D-Md., chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force.

Drafted in response to Russia’s widespread efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the Act would require states use paper ballots; establish cybersecurity standards for voting systems vendors; fund grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems, and to provide cybersecurity training to election officials, and to implement post-election risk limiting audits.

It would also require the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to issue recommendations to address threats; require the testing of voting systems nine months before an election; and require the president to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions.

Finally, it mandates the creation of a new National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions.

“With the 2020 elections just 18 months away, we cannot afford to be complacent about the security of our elections,” Representatives Thompson said. “Nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake.

“Russia successfully attacked our elections in 2016 and it is clear they will try to again next year,” he continued. “Despite repeated warnings from well-respected national security officials the White House has failed to lead a whole-of-government effort to keep our adversaries out of our elections, so Congress will step up.”  

Thompson went on to say protecting the integrity of elections should not be a partisan issue.

“I strongly urge my Republican colleagues to join us and start handling this issue with the seriousness and urgency it demands. The American people deserve no less than full confidence in their vote,” he said.

Chairwoman Lofgren released the below statement on moving the Election Security Act:

“No matter your side of the aisle, our oath to the Constitution is fundamental,” Lofgren agreed. “Federal action is needed now to protect our voting systems which are at the core of our democracy. Solutions that can be implemented before the next federal election cycle in 2020 are essential and why I intend to quickly call up an election security bill for consideration in the Committee on House Administration.”

The Election Security Act was originally introduced by Representative Thompson last year after he co-chaired the Congressional Task Force on Election Security. Representative Lofgren was also a member of the Task Force. Major provisions of the legislation were included in H.R. 1, which was sponsored by Congressman Sarbanes and passed the House earlier this year.

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