H.R. 2722, the SAFE Act
The Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act takes real, concrete steps to secure America’s elections by providing funding for states to replace outdated and vulnerable voting equipment, mandate paper ballot voting systems, risk-limiting post-election audits and contains strict cybersecurity requirements for election technology vendors and voting systems.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report stated clearly, “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” Since the report was issued, top intelligence and security officials have warned we can expect similar foreign interference in the 2020 election.
FBI Director Christopher Wray called Russia’s interference efforts in American elections a “significant counterintelligence threat,” saying in remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations that “our adversaries are going to keep adapting and upping their game. … So we are very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”
Recognizing the urgency and threat to our democracy, House Democrats are acting to advance comprehensive election security reform.
- Authorizes a $600 million Election Assistance Commission (EAC) grant program to assist in securing election infrastructure
Provides grants to State and local election officials to replace aging voting machines with voter-verified paper ballot voting systems. Grants also support hiring IT staff, cybersecurity training, security and risk vulnerability assessments, and other activities to secure election infrastructure.
- Provides states with $175 million in biannual sustainment funding to help maintain election infrastructure.
Seeks to ensure States can maintain security gains by providing each State with no less than $1 per voter who participated in the most recent election to maintain election security.
- Requires States to implement risk-limiting audits.
Mandates States perform risk-limiting audits, a critical tool to ensuring the integrity of elections. These audits, which involve hand counting a certain number of ballots and using statistical methods to determine the accuracy of the original vote tally, are effective at detecting any incorrect election outcomes, whether caused by a cyberattack or something more mundane like a programming error.
- Establishes a $5 million grant program to study and report on accessible paper ballot voting systems.
Directs the National Science Foundation to administer a $5 million grant program to study and report on accessible paper ballot verification mechanisms, including for individuals with disabilities, voters with difficulties in literacy, and voters whose primary language is not English.
- Requires accountability for election technology vendors and sets cybersecurity standards.
Limits State expenditures on goods and services with grant monies provided under this Act to purchases from “qualified election infrastructure vendors.” The EAC, in coordination with DHS, establishes the criteria for achieving such status, which includes maintaining IT infrastructure in a manner consistent with the best practices provided by the EAC and agreeing to report any known or suspected security incidents involving election infrastructure
- Requires voting machines be manufactured in the United States
- Prohibits wireless and internet connectivity on systems that count ballots or upon which voters mark their ballots or systems are configured.