August 01, 2019

On Senate Floor, Ranking Member Klobuchar Presses for Action on Election Security Legislation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, spoke on the Senate floor today urging her Republican colleagues to take up legislation to protect our election infrastructure. The intelligence community, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, has repeatedly confirmed that foreign entities have attacked and continue to attack our election infrastructure. Yet, just last week, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) effort to pass Klobuchar’s bill, the Securing America's Federal Elections (SAFE) Act, which already passed the House of Representatives. It is one of several pieces of election security legislation led by Klobuchar that has been prevented from coming to the floor for a vote by Republicans.  

“Russia invaded our democracy. They didn’t use bombs, jets, or tanks. Instead, they planned a sophisticated cyber mission to undermine the foundation of our democratic system. And we have not passed a bill to address it. That’s unacceptable.

“At a time when the President is failing to do his job to protect our democracy, Congress must do its job. That means we need to put country over party, and we need to pass comprehensive election security legislation. 

“Last week, Leader Schumer offered one of my bills on the Senate Floor. It could have gone to the President’s desk that day. Instead, Leader McConnell objected. During his objection, Leader McConnell said that election security legislation must be drafted with ‘great care’ and ‘on a bipartisan basis.’ Guess what? That’s exactly what Senator Lankford and I spent more than two years doing. We drafted the Secure Elections Act with great care. We consulted experts – everyone from cybersecurity professors to local election officials and the Department of Homeland Security. That bill was scheduled for a markup in my Committee – the Rules Committee – and the White House, with Leader McConnell’s help crushed the efforts and Chairman Blunt was forced to cancel the markup.

“Election security is national security. It is time we started acting like it. The integrity of our election system is the cornerstone of our democracy. The freedom to choose our leaders and know with full confidence that those leaders were chosen in free and fair elections is something that Americans have fought and died for since our country was founded. Obstructing efforts to improve election security is an insult to those who have fought for our freedom and those who work every day to protect our democracy.

“This isn’t about one election or one party. This is about our democracy. We need to be a united front in fighting against those who interfere with our democracy and we must do everything in our power to prevent foreign interference from ever happening again.”

Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to secure our elections and has introduced several pieces of legislation in the Senate to strengthen our election infrastructure and combat propaganda. Her bills would require backup paper ballots, provide $1 billion in election security grants to states for cybersecurity improvements and audits, strengthen the federal response to election security interference, and establish accountability measures for election technology vendors.

Earlier this year, Klobuchar reintroduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, 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 has also led on other election security legislation including the Global Electoral Exchange Act, the Invest in Our Democracy Act, and the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act.

Klobuchar has sent numerous letters urging departments, agencies, and private companies to improve election security. Last month, she sent a letter with Senator Wyden (D-OR) to the FBI asking them to clarify the steps they’ve taken to investigate problems with VR Systems, an election systems vendor that has undergone speculations of hacking in the 2016 election. In April, she led a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FBI, urging them to establish a task force combining the efforts of social media platforms, local election officials, and also reporters and independent researchers, in finding and stopping disinformation and misinformation campaigns. In March, Klobuchar sent a letter to the three biggest voting machine companies in the U.S. asking tough questions about election security. Klobuchar has also sent numerous letters to the DHS and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), urging them to prioritize election security measures.

For broadcast quality footage of Klobuchar’s remarks, click HERE.

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