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Voting equipment companies throw weight behind enhanced disclosures

Voting equipment companies throw weight behind enhanced disclosures
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The CEOs of the three largest U.S. voting equipment companies on Thursday supported more disclosure requirements, marking a major step for an industry that has come under close scrutiny in recent years due to election security concerns. 

The leaders of Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Dominion Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic testified before the House Administration Committee during a House hearing, marking the first time leaders from the three major voting equipment manufacturers testified together before Congress. 

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenWhy prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas Business groups start gaming out a Biden administration MORE (D-Calif.) kicked off the hearing by asking whether the CEOs of these companies, which are estimated to control at least 80 percent of the market for voting equipment in the U.S., would support legislation mandating more disclosures. 

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Specifically, Lofgren asked if they would support requirements to disclose company cybersecurity practices, cyberattacks experienced by the companies, background checks done on employees, foreign investments in the companies, as well as information on the supply chain involved in building the voting equipment.

Tom Burt, the president and CEO of ES&S, which has the largest individual share of the voting equipment market, answered that he “would support a requirement for all five of those requirements.”

Julie Mathis, the CEO and president of Hart InterCivic, and John Poulos, the CEO and president of Dominion, both also agreed with Lofgren’s listed disclosure requirements.

These requirements are already included in bills passed by the House in 2019, which originated from the House Administration Committee, but that are now stalled in the Senate due to Republican objections. These include H.R. 1, the For the People Act, and the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act. 

The company leaders advocated for other requirements from Congress as well. 

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In his opening statement, Burt urged Congress to “pass legislation that requires a paper record for every voter and establishes a mandated security testing program for the people making voting machines.”

Mathis encouraged Congress and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to work together to “apply federal oversight on all election technology, including areas of high vulnerability – such as voter registration, electronic pollbooks, and election night results reporting.”

Following the hearing, Lofgren noted the current lack of federal requirements around voting technology vendors, which have come under extreme scrutiny from both Congress and the public following Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. 

“I thought it was very helpful,” Lofgren told The Hill of the hearing. “They all agreed that there should be specific federal regulations in important areas, and there has been some pushback across the aisle on that. Hopefully that will help dispel that.”

Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R-Ill.), the top Republican on the committee, told The Hill that he “certainly hoped” the hearing would help move legislation forward, while noting the opposition by Republicans to previous Democratic-backed bills that the House has passed. 

“There is a lot of agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the committee about what needs to be addressed, we want all machines that are manufactured to be safe and what we all consider un-hackable, but there were some clear differences in opinion on how we get there,” Davis said.