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May 20, 2019

King, Colleagues Push Legislation to Shield American Elections from Threats

The Election Security Act would improve election cybersecurity and combat foreign interference in U.S. democracy.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, announced that he is an original cosponsor of the Election Security Act. The legislation would require voter-verifiable backup paper ballots and provide election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits. Earlier this week, Senator King highlighted the importance of backup paper ballots and no ability to connect to the internet to members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the commission who provide best practices when certifying voting machines.

“Elections are the heart of our democratic system – and during the 2016 election, this central American ideal was the target of a sophisticated and thorough attack by foreign powers,” said Senator King. “We need to do everything in our power to defend our electoral system, so the American people can know that their government is truly of, by, and for the people.”

Specifically, the Election Security Act would:

·       Require states use voter-verifiable paper ballots.

·       Establish cybersecurity standards for voting systems vendors.

·       Create a certification process for voter registration systems.

·       Fund grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems, to provide cybersecurity training to election officials, and to implement post-election risk limiting audits.

·       Authorize ongoing biennial funding to maintain election infrastructure and implement cybersecurity best practices.

·       Require the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to election systems 180 days before a general election and 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.

·       Require the President to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions.

·       Create a National Commission to make recommendations to counter malign election interference.

Senator King has long been an outspoken advocate for preserving the integrity of the American electoral system and increasing national cybersecurity. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing earlier this week, Senator King questioned the four members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about the agency’s role in ensuring the security of America’s elections, and expressed his deep concern about the lack of resources devoted to the agency during a time when our elections have been targeted by foreign powers. Last week, Senator King and U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (R-Wis) announced the formal launch of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC). As established by statute in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the CSC is a bipartisan effort to review the threats facing America in cyberspace (including election security) and provide strategic guidance and policy recommendations on how to defend ourselves against cyber threats.

In February, Senator King joined all the members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to call on Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats to make the mandated reports on foreign election interference in U.S. elections available to all members of the committee. In September 2018, Senator King questioned Jack Dorsey, Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, and Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, about their companies’ response to foreign influence operations on social media platforms, and how Americans can best defend themselves against future attempts by foreign adversaries. 


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