(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Earlier this week, at an election security forum hosted by Committee on House Administration member Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and special guest Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), members of the public heard from election security experts and public officials about the safety of our election infrastructure headed into the 2018 midterm elections.
At the forum, Raskin and Hoyer were joined by Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Chair Tom Hicks, who provided an update on state efforts to secure their election systems, as well as Danielle Root, Voting Rights Manager for the Center for American Progress, and Liz Howard, Counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. The members and panelists took questions from the audience on how best to secure voting systems.
Raskin and Hoyer were instrumental in securing an additional $380 million in the recently-passed omnibus for funding that will help states secure their election systems and replace their most vulnerable voting machines. Chairman Hicks estimated that more than 40 states will apply for these new funds to help update their aging election equipment by July. However, the Members stressed that Congress must do much more to protect our democracy from foreign interference, and that $380 million is just a down payment on the full investment that will be required. The Brennan Center has estimated that it would cost $500 million for states to replace only their most vulnerable election equipment.
Despite this, the Republican Congress has not held a single full committee hearing in the committees of jurisdiction to examine the attacks on our 2016 elections, nor scheduled a vote on any legislation to secure our elections.
“It’s been nearly two years since Russia’s sweeping and unprecedented assault on our country’s 2016 elections,” said Raskin at the forum. “This attack is now undisputed, but the intelligence community warns that we are at real risk of experiencing another cyber-attack in a few months in the 2018 Election. The continued passivity of the GOP majority Congress is baffling and seemingly invites aggression. Speaker Ryan has refused to hold hearings or develop a plan to ensure we are not attacked again. Fortunately, Democrats are not asleep at the wheel, and we have introduced legislation to provide the funding needed by states to secure our elections against cyber-interference.”
“Ensuring our election systems are secure is one of the most critically important issues facing our nation,” said Whip Hoyer. “Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have worked to undermine the important work of the Election Assistance Commission. Congress must do all that it can to protect our democracy by ensuring our citizens votes are counted, and counted correctly. Americans must have faith in their election systems, and I’m pleased to work with Congressman Raskin on this important issue.”
The Election Security Act (H.R. 5011), introduced in February after the Congressional Task Force on Election Security released a final report on the state of the nation’s election infrastructure, would provide states with necessary funds to replace their most vulnerable voting equipment, as well as ensure continued funding to increase cybersecurity and IT training and staff for state and local election officials.
Video from the forum is available here.