Cybersecurity

Harris on election security: 'Russia can't hack a piece of paper'

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) on Tuesday issued a call for states to focus on election security and possibly adopt paper ballot measures, telling a crowd of New Hampshire voters that paper ballots remain the securest way to cast votes.

Speaking at the "Politics & Eggs" breakfast in New Hampshire, the 2020 Democratic contender told attendees that her infrastructure plan as president would include investments in election security at the state level.

"We have proposed that part of the investment in infrastructure has to be upgrading the infrastructure of states around elections," Harris said Tuesday. "Because guess what? As it turns out, for all that technology has brought us, good and bad, the best way to conduct secure elections? Paper ballots."

"'Cause, the way I kind of say it, half joking, is 'Russia can't hack a piece of paper,' " Harris added.

 

Her remarks at the annual event in the early primary state come as Harris has supported the Secure Elections Act, a bill that stalled in the last Congress but would have required states to have backup paper ballots at the ready in order to receive federal funding for cybersecurity purposes.

That bill is expected to be reintroduced in upcoming months and is supported by top senators on the Intelligence Committee including Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Sen. James Lankford (R-La.), a co-sponsor of the bill, said last year that the measure "adequately helps the states prepare our election infrastructure for the possibility of interference from not just Russia, but possibly another adversary like Iran or North Korea or a hacktivist group."

Twelve Russian nationals were indicted last year as a result of the special counsel investigation looking into Russia's election interference in the 2016 election. They were charged with using fake and stolen identities to influence voters with disinformation and divisive news stories during the election.

There is no evidence that Russia's election meddling resulted in actual ballots being tampered with, but a Department of Homeland Security report late last year found that hackers have attempted to breach election systems in the U.S. as many as 160 times since August of 2018.

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