Committee on House Administration Passes Legislation to Secure American Election Infrastructure
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Committee on House Administration Chairperson favorably reported H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act of 2019, an election security bill to provide funding for states to replace outdated and vulnerable voting equipment, mandate paper ballot voting systems and risk-limiting post-election audits, and contains strict cybersecurity requirements for election technology vendors and voting systems, among other provisions. The bill passed the Committee and will be considered on the House floor next week.
“As we all should know and now appreciate, our country suffered “multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election” in the 2016 presidential election,” said Chairperson Lofgren during this morning’s markup. “When outsiders meddle in our elections, it’s an attack on our country and we cannot leave states to defend against the sophisticated cyber tactics of state actors on their own. While we have made modest progress to bolster our defenses, it’s clear from the analysis of our intelligence community and a host of independent experts from across the political spectrum that more must be done. Our states and local governments need the resources, know-how and support to harden our election infrastructure before Americans head to the polls.”
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.
Recognizing the urgency and threat to our democracy, the Committee on House Administration acted today to advance comprehensive election security reforms to counter outside interference in our democracy.
The SAFE Act will:
- Require voting systems to use individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballots – a widely agreed upon reform to protect our elections from manipulation;
- Expand risk-limiting audits, equipping our states with the systems needed to ensure the accuracy of the vote tallies in an efficient manner;
- Authorize a $600 million Election Assistance Commission grant program to assist in securing election infrastructure, while providing states with $175 million in biannual sustainment funding to help maintain election infrastructure – this initial $600 million is being appropriated by the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill;
- Foster accountability for election technology vendors, creating a “qualified election infrastructure vendor” designation and much needed cyber security deadlines; and
- Implement cyber security safeguards to protect our systems from attack, including prohibition on wireless communications devises and a prohibition on election system internet connectivity.
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