Senate Panel Pushes Election Security Measures

Posted by Dale Eisman on March 21, 2018


President Trump continues to cozy up to Vladimir Putin, ignoring Russia’s apparent attempt to murder a former spy in Britain and insisting that Russia’s reported meddling in the 2016 U.S. election is a hoax, but there is encouraging evidence this morning that at least some in Congress are taking the threat of more attacks seriously.

The Senate Intelligence Committee convened a rare public hearing this morning to highlight the Russian threat to this year’s midterm elections and a set of security measures the committee set out in writing on Tuesday.

“This problem is not a Democratic or Republican one,” Sen.  Mark Warner, D-VA, declared near the outset of the hearing.  The committee’s witnesses, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, appointed by Trump, and former Secretary Jeh Johnson, who served under President Barack Obama, underscored that point, at least temporarily setting aside partisanship to appear together.

The recommendations the Intelligence Committee released on Tuesday track proposals advanced by Common Cause and other election security advocates, including:

  • A streamlined system for federal authorities to provide state election officials with information about foreign cyberattacks on state election systems. The Obama administration has come under fire for not sufficiently warning the states and the public in 2016 that their voter registration and vote tabulating systems were being invaded.
  • Replacement of outdated, touch-screen voting machines with paper ballots so that there is a permanent record of every vote cast. Electronic voting machines, considered the most vulnerable to cyberattacks, are still used in all or part of 13 states.
  • The use of “risk-limiting audits” to ensure that the machine counts reported on Election night reflect the actual results of each election. Colorado and Rhode Island have implemented such audits statewide and several other states are considering requiring them.
  • Creation of a grant program to provide federal funds to states to upgrade their election infrastructures.

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Office: Colorado Common Cause, Common Cause National, Common Cause Rhode Island

Issues: Voting and Elections

Tags: Registration and Voting Systems

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