Higgins Announces House Passage of Legislation to Protect Federal Elections from Foreign Interference
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced House passage of H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act of 2019. The bill passed the House by a vote of 225-184, and will move on to consideration in the Senate.
Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office released their report titled: “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election.” Volume I of that report details, among other things, the ways in which “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systemic fashion.” Included were examples such as the Russian government attempting to hack the information of individuals and entities involved in the administration of elections at the state and local level, including state boards of elections. There were also hacks of election technology vendors, and voter registration databases.
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have said that at least 39 - and possibly all 50 - states were targeted by Russian hacking efforts. Though there is no evidence that votes were changed in the 2016 election, the attacks exposed serious vulnerabilities in election systems and infrastructure, and security officials including Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats have warned that foreign actors plan to interfere again in the 2020 presidential elections.
H.R. 2722 takes the following steps to increase the security of our election systems and prevent manipulation:
• Authorizes $600 million in federal grant funding for voting system security improvements to allow states to modernize and secure their election infrastructure
• Authorizes $175 million every two years to maintain those infrastructure improvements
• Requires the use of voting systems to include individual, voter verified paper ballots
• Bans internet connection for devices that count or mark ballots to prevent vulnerability hacking
• Requires that voting machines are manufactured in the United States
• Creates a designation of “qualified election infrastructure vendor” for vendors involved in election technology to reduce third party risk
• Sets cybersecurity standards for voting systems and election technology vendors
• Requires post-election audits of systems by states to determine potential causes of errors and inaccuracies
Congressman Higgins said: “In 2016 we experienced a direct foreign attack on one of our most sacred institutions, the ballot box. This type of interference must be stopped to preserve integrity and public confidence in our elections, this bill takes action to ensure that foreign attacks like these can’t occur in future elections.”
The legislation is supported by a number of groups, including Common Cause, People for the American Way, End Citizens United Action Fund, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, NAACP, and Public Citizen.