Today, the Select Committee on Intelligence in the United States Senate released its long-awaited report on Russian interference into the 2016 elections. The release occurred in the wake of former special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s warnings yesterday that threats to the nation’s election infrastructure are serious and ongoing. Common Cause hailed the report itself as well as the bipartisan and effective work of the Committee as it addressed the critical and growing threat to our democracy.
“The report is a serious, sober, bipartisan look at what occurred and it charts a path forward for election jurisdictions so that they can be resilient in the face of ongoing cyber attacks from foreign nation states,” said Susannah Goodman, Common Cause Director of Election Security. “After the partisan-animosity of yesterday’s hearings on Capitol Hill with Robert Mueller it is refreshing and noteworthy to see the members of the Intelligence Committee come together. Chairman Burr (R-NC) and Ranking Member Warner (D-VA) recognized the threat to our democracy from the outset and have consistently pressed forward together to do their best to safeguard our elections from attack. The report’s recommendations are sweeping in scope and include critical cyber security best practices and recommendations.”
The report includes a blueprint to safeguard our election infrastructure. The report recommends:
- The federal government create a deterrence strategy which warns foreign adversaries that an attack on our election infrastructure is a hostile act and that the United States will respond accordingly.
- The federal government and states work to improve information gathering and threat sharing.
- State officials work with DHS to evaluate vulnerabilities to their election infrastructure end-to-end
- States replace outdated voting machines and ensure that “any machine purchased going forward have a voter verified paper trail” and that any wireless networking capability be removed or rendered inert.
- States begin to implement audits of election results. Today most jurisdictions which conduct post-election audits on vote tabulation only spot check machine function. If election jurisdictions establish “risk limiting” audits on election contests, voters will be assured that the winner really won or that a recount should occur.
- States avoid using online voting. Although helping all voters have access to the ballot is a critical function of government, ballots sent online can be easily intercepted, altered, or deleted. Over 32 states allow some form of online voting, most for military and overseas voting. In this threat environment those ballots are at high risk.