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House Dems reintroduce bill to protect elections from cyberattacks

House Dems reintroduce bill to protect elections from cyberattacks
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House Democratic chairmen on Friday reintroduced a bill to protect U.S. election systems against cyberattacks, including requiring President TrumpDonald TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE to produce a “national strategy for protecting democratic institutions.”

The Election Security Act is aimed at reducing risks posed by cyberattacks by foreign entities or other actors against U.S. election systems. The national strategy from President Trump would “protect against cyber attacks, influence operations, disinformation campaigns, and other activities that could undermine the security and integrity of United States democratic institutions.”

The bill is sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonLawmakers line up behind potential cyber breach notification legislation NAACP president accuses Trump of having operated under 'white supremacist doctrine' Lawmakers blame SolarWinds hack on 'collective failure' to prioritize cybersecurity MORE (D-Miss.), House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenCurator estimates Capitol art damage from mob totals K Architect of the Capitol considering display on Jan. 6 riot Lawmakers say they are 'targets,' ask to boost security MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesEfforts to secure elections likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress Former Md. senator Paul Sarbanes dies at 87 Democrats were united on top issues this Congress — but will it hold? MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force.

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The bill would also require the establishment of cybersecurity standards for voting system vendors, and require states to use paper ballots during elections. Further, the legislation would establish a National Commission to Protect U.S. Democratic Institutions that would be tasked with countering efforts to undermine democratic institutions, and require the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to election systems 180 days prior to an election.

Portions of the Election Security Act, which was introduced during the last Congress by Thompson, were included in H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which also included broad electoral reforms. This legislation was passed by the House earlier this year, but does not appear likely to see action in the Senate, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE (R-Ky.) referring to the bill as the “Democrat Politician Protection Act.

Thompson on Friday urged Republicans to work with him and the other sponsors to move the Election Security Act through the House, commenting that “nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake,” and criticizing the Trump administration for not doing enough on election security.

“Russia successfully attacked our elections in 2016 and it is clear they will try to again next year,” Thompson said in a statement. “Despite repeated warnings from well-respected national security officials the White House has failed to lead a whole-of-government effort to keep our adversaries out of our elections, so Congress will step up.”

Both the House Homeland Security and House Administration committees have held hearings in recent months on the topic of election security. Lofgren described this issue during a House Administration Committee hearing on Wednesday as a “primary focus” for her panel moving forward, and said Friday that she intends to “quickly call up an election security bill for consideration” by the committee.

“No matter your side of the aisle, our oath to the Constitution is fundamental,” Lofgren said in a statement. “Federal action is needed now to protect our voting systems which are at the core of our democracy. Solutions that can be implemented before the next federal election cycle in 2020 are essential.”

Sarbanes, the primary sponsor of H.R. 1, said that “with our intelligence agencies increasingly warning us about the impending foreign attacks on our elections in 2020, we must act quickly to shore up our defenses and protect our democracy.”