House Democratic chairmen on Friday reintroduced a bill to protect U.S. election systems against cyberattacks, including requiring President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump 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 ThompsonExecutive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Democratic anger grows over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Miss.), House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Spotlight turns to GOP's McCarthy in Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesDemocrats push to shield election workers from violent threats Rep. Bush drives calls for White House action on eviction moratorium lapse Chesapeake Bay's health increases slightly to a C MORE (D-Md.), the chairman of the Democracy Reform Task Force.
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 McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble 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.”