October 15, 2018

Klobuchar, Cardin, Van Hollen Introduce Bill to Mandate Transparency for Election Security Systems

As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, Klobuchar has long been a leader in the fight to protect our elections from foreign interference

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, and Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced legislation to bring greater transparency to America’s election systems in an effort to protect our country from foreign interference. The Election Systems Integrity Act would require disclosure of foreign ownership of election service providers. This summer, it was revealed that a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin has become the largest investor in a fund tied to the company that hosts Maryland’s statewide voter registration, candidacy, and election management system; the online voter registration system; online ballot delivery system; and the unofficial election night results website. Disclosure to state officials of this change in ownership was made by the FBI and not the company itself.

“Foreign adversaries continue to target our election systems every day—we must ensure that those who want to undermine our democracy are not in control of the very infrastructure we are trying to protect,” Klobuchar said. “The Election Systems Integrity Act will help safeguard our election systems by requiring vendors to disclose their ownership so that state and federal officials know who is behind the companies that provide our states with election equipment.”

“There is bipartisan agreement that our elections are under threat from foreign cyberattacks and disinformation efforts. It makes securing the integrity of our elections one of our highest national security priorities,” Cardin said. “While there are many safeguards in place, the American people have a right to know when foreign players have made their way in to the very inner workings of our election system. Transparency and communication between all levels of government will help keep our future elections free and fair.” 

“Our free and fair elections are central to what makes America’s democracy an example to the world. Foreign ownership of the very nuts and bolts of our election systems – like we saw here in Maryland – opens a door to potential attacks that we cannot allow. Step one to preventing this abuse is transparency,” Van Hollen said. “The Election Systems Integrity Act will shine a light on any foreign actors who own American election infrastructure and allow states to take action to keep our democracy safe.”

Klobuchar has been leading the fight to protect our future elections from foreign interference. In March, Klobuchar and Senator Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Secure Elections Act with Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to strengthen election cybersecurity in America and protect against foreign interference in future elections. The Secure Elections Act streamlines cybersecurity information-sharing between federal intelligence entities and state election agencies; provides security clearances to state election officials; promotes the use of paper ballots and post-election audits; and provides resources for states to strengthen our election infrastructure. The bipartisan legislation is cosponsored by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Cyber Subcommittee, and Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Angus King (I-ME).

In October, Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

Klobuchar and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chair of the Senate Rules Committee, have also introduced the bipartisan Stop Foreign Donations Affecting Our Elections Act to strengthen disclosure by requiring federal campaigns to use existing credit card verification protocols to help verify that online credit card donations come from U.S. sources. Last June, Klobuchar introduced the Helping State and Local Governments Prevent Cyber Attacks Act to help combat foreign interference by providing state and local governments with the information and resources they need to keep our elections secure and improve voter confidence.

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