House Passes Lofgren’s SAFE Act to Secure America’s Elections
WASHINGTON, DC – A critical election security bill to harden our nation’s elections infrastructure passed the House today with bipartisan support. H.R. 2722, the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, authored by Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) makes meaningful investments to upgrade the security of voting systems across the country to guard against foreign interference in our democracy. The bill passed the House by a 225-184 vote.
This comprehensive election security bill provides funding to states to replace outdated and vulnerable voting equipment, mandates paper ballot voting systems and risk-limiting post-election audits, and mandates strict cybersecurity requirements for both election technology vendors and for voting systems. This bill builds on the important election reforms that were included in H.R. 1, the For the People Act.
“The SAFE Act is critical legislation to invest in and upgrade the machinery of American democracy,” said Lofgren on the House floor. “It will help us combat the national emergency facing our country. Aging equipment, under-resourced jurisdictions, and interference by foreign entities or non-state actors leaves our systems vulnerable to exploitation that can undermine confidence in election outcomes. The need is urgent. The time for Congress to act is now. We simply cannot leave state governments to defend themselves against the sophisticated cyber tactics of outside actors.”
The Mueller report clearly stated, “the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” What’s more, our top intelligence and security officials have warned that they expect to see the same type of foreign interference from Russia in 2020. Indeed, intelligence officials have made clear that we face ongoing threats to our elections from foreign adversaries and hackers.
The Mueller report documented that, in addition to stealing the emails of the DNC and John Podesta, the Russians also targeted individuals and entities involved in the administration of our elections, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of states, and county governments.
The SAFE Act incorporates key elements identified by security experts and the National Academy of Sciences, including:
- Authorizing $600 million in Voting System Security Improvement Grants for states to modernize and secure their election infrastructure. (The initial $600 million is being appropriated by the FY 2020 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which the House passed today.)
- Authorizing $175 million every two years to states to maintain the state’s election infrastructure.
- Mandating that voting systems use individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballots – a widely agreed upon reform to protect our elections from manipulation.
- Requiring states to conduct post-election risk-limiting audits to ensure election integrity. Whether it is a programming error or a cyber-attack, these audits help detect inaccuracies.
- Setting strict cybersecurity standards for both election technology vendors and for voting systems.
- Fostering accountability for election technology vendors, creating a “qualified election infrastructure vendor” designation.
- Banning Internet accessibility or connectivity for devices on which ballots are marked or counted.
- Requiring voting machines to be manufactured in the United States.
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