House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking

House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking
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Republicans on the House Administration Committee on Wednesday introduced legislation that would seek to update a long-standing federal election law and secure voter registration databases from foreign hacking attempts.

The Protect American Voters Act (PAVA) would require the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to establish the Emerging Election Technology Committee (EETC), which would help create voluntary guidelines for election equipment, such as voter registration databases, not covered under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

HAVA was signed into law in 2002 following problems with voting during the 2000 presidential election. The law established the EAC and set minimum election administration standards. 

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The EETC would be empowered to bypass the existing Voluntary Voting Systems Guidelines process, which is a voluntary set of voting requirements that voting systems can be tested against to ensure their security and accessibility.

The new bill would also establish an Election Cyber Assistance Unit within the EAC, which would help connect state and local election officials across the country with cybersecurity experts who could provide technical support.  

Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisRepublicans root for Sanders nomination in battle for House Blagojevich calls himself a 'Trumpocrat,' praises Trump after release from prison Sanders slams Trump pardons as part of 'broken and racist criminal justice system' MORE (Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, sponsored the legislation alongside other committee Republicans, Reps. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerRepublicans root for Sanders nomination in battle for House Top GOP super PAC spent money on NC Democrat House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum MORE (N.C.) and Barry Loudermilk (Ga.). 

Other co-sponsors were: Reps. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanOvernight Defense: Bolton, GOP senators see close ties challenged | Republicans fume over Dem maneuver on Iran bills |Trump criticizes Democrats over war powers vote House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking GOP fumes over Democrats' maneuver for bringing up Iran bills MORE (R-Va.), Jim HagedornJames Lee HagedornMinnesota congressman diagnosed with cancer House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking DCCC unveils initial dozen candidates for 'Red to Blue' program MORE (R-Minn.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotHouse GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking DCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says MORE (R-Ohio), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungImpeachment demonstrates dire need for term limits House approves pro-union labor bill House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking MORE (R-Alaska), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoHillicon Valley: Officials worry about Nevada caucus technology after Iowa | Pelosi joins pressure campaign on Huawei | Workers at Kickstarter vote to unionize | Bezos launches B climate initiative Tech for Nevada caucuses under scrutiny after Iowa debacle Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-N.Y.), and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Morning Report — Trump basks in acquittal; Dems eye recanvass in Iowa Trump holds White House 'celebration' for impeachment acquittal MORE (R-N.Y.)

Davis said in a statement on Wednesday that they were introducing the new bill to cover “non-voting technology” such as voter registration databases and electronic pollbooks that aren’t covered by existing laws.

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"When Russia attacked our election equipment in the 2016 presidential election, they didn't hack our vote-tallying machines,” Davis said. “Instead, they were able to infiltrate the non-voting systems in our election infrastructure. States didn't have much guidance on how best to protect those elements of the election ecosystem, like centralized online voter registration databases.”

He added that "registered American voters should not have to worry that their personal information will be hacked by a foreign agent. PAVA is a common-sense proposal to stop what we saw in 2016, and I hope my Democratic colleagues will join us in this endeavor to protect our election systems and the technology that may be developed for future elections in our nation." 

According to the report compiled by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE, Russian hackers targeted election networks across the country, and successfully hacked into the system in Illinois and were able to exfiltrate “data related to thousands of U.S. voters before the malicious activity was identified.”

Loudermilk said in a separate statement that “Russia’s attempts to interfere in previous elections is a prime example of why we need to ensure our voting infrastructure is secure and free from foreign influence.”

Davis led another group of House Republicans in October to introduce a separate election security-focused bill, the Honest Elections Act, which would make political advertisements more transparent 

An official for House Administration Committee Chairwoman Rep. Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHillicon Valley: Dems cancel surveillance vote after pushback to amendments | Facebook to ban certain coronavirus ads | Lawmakers grill online ticketing execs | Hacker accessed facial recognition company's database Hillicon Valley: Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments | Lawmakers grill Ticketmaster, StubHub execs over online ticketing | Democrats cancel surveillance vote over pushback to amendments MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill that while they were aware of the bill being introduced, they did not know any of the details prior to its introduction on Wednesday night. 

The House Administration Committee has focused heavily on election security and voting reform issues over the past year, with the committee advancing, along party lines, the three major election security and reform bills passed by the House in 2019. These three bills have stalled in the Senate amid Republican objections.