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 DavisHouse rejects GOP effort to seat McCarthy's picks for Jan. 6 panel Banks blames Pelosi for Jan. 6 'breakdown of security' Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe MORE (Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, sponsored the legislation alongside other committee Republicans, Reps. Mark WalkerBradley (Mark) Mark WalkerFirst hearing set for lawsuit over Florida's new anti-riot bill NRA appealing Florida ban on gun sales to people under 21 Trump's biggest political obstacle is Trump MORE (N.C.) and Barry Loudermilk (Ga.). 

Other co-sponsors were: Reps. Denver RigglemanDenver RigglemanVirginia Democrats seek to tie Youngkin to Trump's election claims The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Jan. 6 probe, infrastructure to dominate week The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi considers adding GOP voices to Jan. 6 panel MORE (R-Va.), Jim HagedornJames Lee HagedornMinnesota congressman announces kidney cancer has resurfaced READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results Hagedorn holds onto Minnesota House seat MORE (R-Minn.), Steve ChabotSteven (Steve) Joseph ChabotWe must address the declining rate of startup business launches Lobbying world OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Biden administration to evacuate Afghans who helped US l Serious differences remain between US and Iran on nuclear talks l US, Turkish officials meet to discuss security plans for Afghan airport MORE (R-Ohio), Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden suspends Arctic oil leases issued under Trump |  Experts warn US needs to better prepare for hurricane season | Progressives set sights on Civilian Climate Corps Overnight Energy: Biden admin backs Trump approval of major Alaska drilling project | Senate Republicans pitch 8 billion for infrastructure | EPA to revise Trump rule limiting state authority to block pipelines Biden signs bill to help Alaska cruise industry MORE (R-Alaska), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role MORE (R-N.Y.), and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikStefanik calls Cheney 'Pelosi pawn' over Jan. 6 criticism GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto 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) 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, 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 LofgrenBiden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report House GOP blames Pelosi — not Trump — for Jan. 6 House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role 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.