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Security Experts Confirm Feasibility Of Remote Voting In The House

July 17, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Following a hearing today to explore the feasibility and security of technology to conduct remote voting in the House of Representatives, Committee on House Administration Democrats issued the following statements:

“During today’s hearing, leading security experts made clear that technology – properly and securely administered – can support remote voting if the House wishes to adopt it,” said Chairperson Zoe Lofgren. “Our nation – and the world – continue to grapple with the devastating spread of a historic pandemic. And the spread of the disease in the U.S. is worsening.  While our work is essential, we in Congress have an option that many vital frontline workers do not:  we can do much of our work remotely in a safe, secure, online format. It is not unusual for any institution steeped in history and precedent to resist technological change. But we can’t afford that attitude today in the face of the COVID crisis. The technology and security experts testifying today were unanimous in their judgement that existing technologies can be applied successfully to the procedural and logistical challenges we face in our legislative operations. Remote voting could be another powerful tool to permit the House to continue its work.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal life as we know it, forcing the entire world to adapt,” said Vice Chair Jamie Raskin. “Millions of Americans have had to figure out how to work from home, schools have had find ways to educate students remotely, and businesses have been forced to find different ways to serve their customers and keep people safe. Everyone has had to adapt, to find a new way to live and work. Congress is no different. To ensure that we can continue to conduct the people’s business, the House has made temporary changes to our rules to allow for proxy voting and remote committee hearings during this public health emergency. With COVID-19 cases increasing across nearly every State and a second wave of infections anticipated this fall, remote voting could provide us with a secure, transparent, and reliable way to conduct legislative business and ensure that we are all able to represent our constituents effectively.” 

“Today’s hearing led by Chair Lofgren and featuring several expert witnesses made it very clear that remote voting can be a secure and practical solution for the House of Representatives,” said Congresswoman Susan Davis. “Remote voting can give our constituents a voice when emergency situations prevent us from casting votes on their behalf in person and that is key for the integrity of our democracy.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has required adjustments and change in nearly every part of our lives and that includes the way we conduct our work in the House of Representatives” said Congressman G.K. Butterfield. “The need to follow the recommendation of public health officials to maintain social distancing to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus is a continuous effort and concern. After listening to expert testimony today on the available technology as well as the safety and security protocols that would be put in place, I have great confidence that remote voting can be a highly effective method in continuing the essential work of the House.” 

“Unconventional circumstances are often addressed in unconventional ways,” said Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge. “Congress must fulfill its responsibilities under the Constitution, while addressing the health and safety of its Members, staff and the general public.  Today’s technical experts offered effective possibilities to do just that, and the Clerk assured us that whatever was decided by the House would be implemented to ensure integrity, security, transparency and full participation.  Remote voting may be viewed as unconventional by some, but it clearly could be an effective tool when circumstances, such as this pandemic, require us to be flexible, while fulfilling our duties.”

“Right now, the American people need their representatives to quickly respond and pass legislation to help navigate this crisis,” said Congressman Pete Aguilar. “Remote voting gives us a way to do that without jeopardizing the health and safety of Members of Congress, their families and congressional staff. Today’s hearing made clear that secure remote voting is a possibility worth exploring to allow Congress to continue its work on behalf of the American people in the midst of this pandemic.”

Background:

The Committee on House Administration’s hearing today begins a process of fulfilling the requirements of H.Res. 965, adopted by the House this May, which directed the Chair of the Committee on House Administration, in consultation with the Ranking Minority Member, to “study the feasibility of using technology to conduct remote voting in the House,” and “provide certification to the House upon a determination that operable and secure technology exists to conduct remote voting in the House.”

Witnesses included Cheryl L. Johnson, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives; Representative Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; William Crowell, Partner at Alsop Louie Partners; Jon Green, VP and Chief Security Technologist at Aruba Networks; Dr. Ronald L. Rivest, Institute Professor at MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab; Dr. Aviel Rubin, Technical Director of the JHU Information Security Institute and Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University; and Dr. David Wagner, Professor in the Computer Science Division at the University of California, Berkeley.

Video of the hearing can be found here.

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