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October 28, 2019

To Counter Election Interference, King Backs Bill to Shield American Elections from Foreign Influence

PORTLAND, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today announced his support for the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act. This new legislation proposes several steps to stop foreign interference in American elections. A version of the bill passed the House of Representatives last week.

“This legislation is so clearly consistent with our founders’ vision that we shouldn’t even need it: to ensure our elected officials are accountable and responsive to their constituents, our elections must be free from foreign interference,” said Senator King. “Unfortunately, it is clear that in recent years, foreign powers like Russia have worked to undermine faith in our election systems. We must strengthen both the integrity of our elections and Americans’ faith in the process; the SHIELD Act is a vital part of that effort.”

Specifically, the SHIELD Act would

  • require political campaigns, parties and political committees to report attempts by foreign governments, political parties and their agents to influence elections to authorities at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  • prevent foreign interference in future elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio and satellite.
  • close loopholes that allow foreign nationals and foreign governments to spend in U.S. elections by prohibiting them from participating in decision-making about campaign contributions or expenditures.
  • clarify that the offering of non-public campaign material to foreign governments and those linked with foreign governments and their agents is an illegal solicitation of support.

Additionally, the bill prohibits anyone from providing false information about voting rules and qualifications for voting, provides mechanisms for disseminating correct information, and establishes strong penalties for voter intimidation.

A co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Senator King has long been an outspoken advocate for preserving the integrity of the American electoral system. In May, he cosponsored the Election Security Act which would require voter-verifiable backup paper ballots and provide election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing earlier this year, 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.

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