Common Cause Hails Vital House Vote, Urges Senate to Take Up Election Security

Statement of Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause

“Today’s passage of the bipartisan SAFE Act in the House is a large critically important step toward safeguarding our elections. It is now up to the Senate to pass strong election security legislation. Our election systems have been breached by a hostile foreign power. Those attacks continue to this day and they will not stop during the 2020 elections, so we must be ready.

“Right now strapped county and state governments are being asked to defend against sophisticated nation state actors and it’s an unfair matchup.

“The federal government must step in to provide the resources and the expertise to help states and local governments secure the integrity of their election systems against sophisticated foreign intelligence assets.

“This legislation mandates basic cyber security best practices, establishes grant programs, and provides funding for research.”

This week Common Cause urged every Member of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote “yes” on the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act (HR 2722) when it went to the floor for a vote. We will do the same with the Senate going forward.

A Monday letter to House Members emphasized that the critical legislation will help ensure that states and localities get the necessary resources and take key steps to make our election infrastructure resilient in the face of the ongoing attacks by hostile nation state actors.

The letter emphasized that the SAFE Act includes the following critical measures:

  • Requires that all voting systems produce a voter verifiable paper ballot – a critical failsafe and low-tech deterrent to attempts to tamper with vote counts by introducing sophisticated malware into vote tallying system;
  • Establishes a grant program so states have necessary resources to conduct risk limiting audits to ensure that the results of the election are accurate and free of tampering.
  • Establishes a grant program through the National Science Foundation to support research and development of systems that enhance the accessibility of paper ballots for people with disabilities, voters whose primary language is not English, and for voters with difficulties in literacy;
  • Directs the Election Assistance Commission to conduct a study on ways to enhance the usability of ballots;
  • Requires vendors to report cybersecurity breaches and other cyber security incidents; and
  • Requires vendors to certify their systems to the latest Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and to make source code available for inspection by the public.

The letter notes that Common Cause plans to key-vote final passage of the SAFE Act, in our Democracy Scorecard, which we send to our 1.2 million members.

To read the full letter, click here.