Rooney, Gowdy, Himes, Sewell Introduce Legislation to Help Protect Sanctity of U.S. Elections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, four members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) introduced the Secure Elections Act, which would provide local communities and state governments with the resources needed to strengthen election systems against cyberattacks.
The bill was introduced by Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), all of whom have been integral members of the HPSCI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“Although the Russian government didn’t change the outcome of the 2016 election, they certainly interfered with the intention of sowing discord and undermining Americans’ faith in our democratic process,” Rep. Rooney said. “There’s no doubt in my mind they will continue to meddle in our elections this year and in the future.”
The Secure Elections Act would allow states and local jurisdictions to voluntarily apply for grants to replace outdated voting machines and modernize their elections systems. The bill also streamlines the process the federal government uses to share relevant cybersecurity threat information with state and local governments and directs the Department of Homeland Security to ensure state election officials are appropriately cleared to receive vital classified information.
The bill comes at a pivotal time for the U.S., as Russia and other adversaries continue exploring ways to actively and covertly influence American elections.
“Hostile foreign actors have attempted and will continue to attempt to undermine the fundamentals of our democracy by attacking our electoral process,” said Rep. Gowdy. “It is our responsibility to take every precaution necessary to safeguard our elections and ensure no vote count is ever interfered with. By streamlining communication between the federal government and states and authorizing grants for state and local governments to modernize their election infrastructure, the Secure Elections Act will ensure states have the tools they need to protect our electoral process.”
“Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy,” said Rep. Himes. “Russian actors targeted our elections infrastructure during the 2016 elections and will continue these attacks on our elections. We must act now to protect our election systems from attacks by foreign actors who seek to erode our democracy and undermine the foundations of our government’s legitimacy. This bipartisan legislation will ensure that the first line of defense – those on the frontlines of administering elections – have the information, modern equipment, financial resources and federal support needed to protect our elections.”
“Our democracy is our nation’s greatest asset and it is our job to protect its integrity,” said Rep. Sewell. “We know from our Intelligence Community that Russian entities launched cyberattacks against our election infrastructure in 2016, exploiting at least 21 state election systems. As the 2018 elections approach, action is urgently needed to protect our democracy against another attack. Today’s bipartisan bill takes a huge step forward by providing election officials with the resources and information they need to keep our democracy safe.”
“It’s critical that we provide our local and state election offices with the resources they need to harden their systems against cyberattacks,” said Rooney. “The funding provided by this bill will allow our communities to close vulnerabilities and prepare for the future, rather than sit around and wait for the next attack.”
The Senate version of the bill was originally introduced in March by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and is cosponsored by Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).