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As New York Begins First Early Vote, House Passes Legislation Increasing Transparency in Elections and Safeguarding Democracy from Foreign Interference

Oct 24, 2019
Press Release
Higgins speaks on House floor in support of SHIELD Act

On the eve of New York State’s first ever early voting, which runs from October 26th to November 3rd, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) took to the House floor to express his support for legislation he cosponsored that includes measures aimed at closing loopholes that allow foreign governments and individuals to spend money in and influence American elections. H.R. 4617, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, would strengthen existing provisions that prohibit foreign money in campaigning, increasing the transparency of online political advertisements, and implement a duty for campaigns to report to the authorities any offers of assistance made by foreign governments or individuals. It passed the House by a vote of 227-181.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s March Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election concluded “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.”  Since then, in July, national security experts and officials including FBI director Christopher Wray have testified that foreign governments remain intent on interfering in future elections.

Prior to the vote on the legislation, Congressman Higgins spoke from the House floor about the need for the SHIELD Act to preserve the integrity and fairness of our elections.

In his remarks, Higgins said: “this Saturday, October 26th, early voting begins in New York State for the first time expanding the window of voters to select their government representatives. This country has long upheld its protection of free and fair elections keeping the power and decision making where it should be - with and only with the American people. Foreign interference in our elections is real and its existence is threatening the legitimacy of our elections, national security, and the democracy this nation was founded on.”

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The SHIELD Act is supported by organizations including the Brennan Center for Justice, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Catholic Social Justice, and more. The bill now moves to the Senate.