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Yang compares U.S. election tampering to Russia's election interference efforts

Yang compares U.S. election tampering to Russia's election interference efforts
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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangMary J. Blige endorses New York City mayoral candidate in new ad Ocasio-Cortez endorses Maya Wiley in NYC mayoral race NYC mayoral candidate hit with second allegation of sexual misconduct MORE on Tuesday night said that the U.S. has "tampered with other elections" in calling for action to be taken to deter Russia from interfering in the 2020 election.

“We have to let Russia know, look, we get it, we’ve tampered with other elections, you’ve tampered with our elections, and now it has to stop, and if it does not stop we will take this as an act of hostility against the American people," Yang said during the Democratic primary debate.

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Yang described Russian hacking efforts ahead of the 2016 U.S. elections as "an illustration of the 21st century threats" such as cybersecurity and climate change, vowing to help "pull us forward" in addressing these issues.

Democratic candidate Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (Minn.), one the main Senate Democrats to push for action on election security over the past several months, pushed back strongly against Yang's assertion that the U.S. and Russia were equal in terms of election interference against other nations.

“I don’t see a moral equivalency between our country and Russia," Klobuchar said, adding that Russian interference in 2016 was "much more serious" than "meddling," and that Russia's actions constituted an "invasion" of U.S. elections.

Klobuchar called for the use of paper ballot backups in every state to prevent election meddling by Russian actors, and also urged passage of legislation to prevent social media companies from running political advertisements without disclosing to users who paid for them.

Specifically, Klobuchar urged passage of the Honest Ads Act, a bill she introduced earlier this year with Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Pelosi: 'No intention' of abandoning Democrats' infrastructure goals McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (D-Va.).

This legislation, which has not seen movement in the Senate, would change the language of the Federal Election Campaign Act to require the sponsors of ads to be disclosed “in any public communication” instead of specific mediums. It would also require all social media sites with more than 50 million monthly visitors to maintain a public file of all political ads purchased for more than $500.

"We can't wait to become president to get that done, we need to get that done now," Klobuchar said Tuesday night of action to bolster election security. 

Other Democratic presidential candidates including former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE, former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke considering Texas governor bid: report O'Rourke clarifies remarks, leaves door open to gubernatorial bid O'Rourke says he's not planning on run for Texas governor MORE (Texas), Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerTeen who filmed Floyd murder awarded honorary Pulitzer Senate confirms first Muslim American federal judge Police reform negotiations enter crucial stretch MORE (N.J.), and billionaire philanthropist Tom SteyerTom SteyerTop 12 political donors accounted for almost 1 of every 13 dollars raised since 2009: study California Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray MORE also discussed Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections during the debate, with O'Rourke saying, "We must be in charge of holding Russia accountable for invading our democracy."

Democrats in both the House and Senate have pushed hard for further action to be taken to secure U.S. elections over the past several months, particularly following the release of the report on Russia's 2016 interference efforts by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE, and of reports on these efforts that have recently been released by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

While the House has passed two major election security bills, and plans to take up another later this month, the Senate Republicans have blocked the majority of proposed bills, citing concerns around federalizing elections.