Blue Dogs Back Legislation to Secure Voting Systems

January 24, 2020 by Dan McCue
Westsiders cast their votes at the polling place inside the Life Guard Headquarters on June 7, 2016 in Venice, Calif. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats has endorsed H.R. 4990, the Election Technology Research Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that will give the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation new resources to enhance the security of U.S. voting systems.

The legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., and has been approved by the House Science Committee. 

“Election security is a bipartisan concern, and we are working together to address vulnerabilities with our voting systems,”  Rep. Sherrill said. 

“Our democracy only works if all eligible citizens can participate in elections and be confident that their ballots have been accurately cast and counted. The Election Technology Research Act of 2019 will help to ensure that the technical underpinnings of our election architecture are solid,” she added.

Throughout this Congress, the Blue Dog Coalition has led an effort to draw attention to the national security threat posed by Russia and other foreign adversaries in their attempts to meddle in U.S. elections and have called for a comprehensive, bipartisan effort in Congress to secure the nation’s election infrastructure and hold adversaries accountable for their actions.

The Act will authorize new research and standards activities to strengthen the technology supporting elections systems.

Specifically, the bill will:   

  • Authorize research activities at NIST on cybersecurity, privacy, auditing, and other important areas of research related to the security and integrity of elections;
  • Establish an Elections Systems Center of Excellence at NIST to foster collaborations between NIST, universities, state and local governments, and private stakeholders; 
  • Authorize new research grants for elections systems research and education at NSF;  
  • Direct NIST to carry out specific tasks supporting secure elections, including providing technical assistance to state and local election officials on implementation of cybersecurity and privacy standards; 
  • Require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to assess the impact of NIST’s activities; and amend the Help America Vote Act definition of “voting systems” to include not just the voting machines but also electronic poll books and voter registration systems. 

“In order to fix our broken system in Washington and restore American’s faith in their government, the integrity and security of our elections cannot be questioned or partisan,” said Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y. an Army combat veteran and co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “Unfortunately, attacks on our democratic processes have also become standard practice for countries looking to threaten our national security, which is why the bipartisan Election Technology Research Act of 2019 is such a crucial step to guard against those threats.”

Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., also co-chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, agreed, saying the integrity of our democracy depends on our ability to protect the security of our elections.

“The Election Technology Research Act provides the resources and infrastructure needed to innovate, improve security, and modernize elections across the country. This is a practical, bipartisan step to help strengthen the security of our elections and protect our democracy against future threats,” Horn said.

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