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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 DavisHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to express openness to Section 230 reform | Facebook removes accounts linked to foreign influence efforts ahead of election | YouTube adding warnings to videos, searches on Election Day The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - One week out, where the Trump, Biden race stands Hillicon Valley: Hospitals brace for more cyberattacks as coronavirus cases rise | Food service groups offer local alternatives to major delivery apps | Facebook says it helped 4.4M people register to vote MORE (Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, sponsored the legislation alongside other committee Republicans, Reps. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerWant to prevent Democrat destruction? Save our Senate Joe Biden has long forgotten North Carolina: Today's visit is too late Mike Johnson to run for vice chairman of House GOP conference MORE (N.C.) and Barry Loudermilk (Ga.). 

Other co-sponsors were: Reps. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanSunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides Outgoing Va. Republican: Two-party system is failing Americans Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (R-Va.), Jim HagedornJames Lee HagedornEnergized by polls, House Democrats push deeper into GOP territory Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide 3 congressmen on Air Force One with Trump took commercial flight after president's diagnosis MORE (R-Minn.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Democrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide MORE (R-Ohio), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Democrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Coordinated federal leadership is needed for recovery of US travel and tourism MORE (R-Alaska), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoWarren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates Trump fuels and frustrates COVID-19 relief talks Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now 'working out' MORE (R-N.Y.), and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWomen gain uneven footholds in Congress, state legislatures Republicans cast Trump as best choice for women The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Pence rips Biden as radical risk 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) 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 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.) 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.