November 05, 2019

One Year Before Election, Ranking Member Klobuchar Calls for Passage of Election Security Legislation

WASHINGTON  With this week marking just one year before the next federal election, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, issued this statement calling for passage of election security legislation.

“Russia invaded our democracy in 2016, and our top intelligence and military officials are sounding the alarm bells that Russia is at it again and other adversaries are following suit. With a year to go until the next federal election, it is unacceptable that Senate Republicans have refused to take up election security legislation. Time and again, my Democratic colleagues and I have gone to the floor to demand a vote on election security legislation, and we have been blocked each and every time.

We need to be a united front in fighting against those who would intervene in our elections, and we must do everything in our power to prevent foreign interference from happening again. This isn’t about one election or one party. This is about our democracy. And we must act now.”

Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect our elections from foreign interference and secure our election infrastructure. In October, Klobuchar introduced the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act. The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives last month, includes three Klobuchar provisions to secure U.S elections, including the Honest Ads Act, PAID AD Act, and Deceptive Practices and the Voter Intimidation Prevention Act. The same month, she asked for unanimous consent to immediately consider the legislation on the Senate floor, but was blocked by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

In May, Klobuchar introduced the Election Security Act (ESA) which now has 40 cosponsors. This legislation 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 and Warner also introduced the Preventing Adversaries Internationally from Disbursing Advertising Dollars (PAID AD) Act to expand the scope of the prohibition on political activity by foreign nationals. The legislation would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) to prevent foreign nationals from purchasing broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications naming a candidate for office at any point in time, and prevents foreign governments and foreign lobbyists from buying issue ads.

In June, Klobuchar and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Act calling for federal action against voter intimidation and deceptive practices designed to stop Americans from voting. Historically, certain citizens, especially racial and ethnic minorities, were prevented from voting because of significant barriers like literacy tests and poll taxes. While constitutional amendments and voting rights legislation have removed some of the systemic barriers to voting, new tactics emerge every election cycle to suppress voter participation by intimidating or intentionally misleading voters.

Klobuchar has also led on other election security legislation including the Combatting Foreign Influence Act, Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act, Invest in Our Democracy Act, and Global Electoral Exchange Act.

Klobuchar has sent numerous letters urging departments, agencies, and private companies to improve election security. In July, Klobuchar sent a letter with Senator Reed (D-RI) to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 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 June, she sent a similar letter with Senator Wyden (D-OR) to the FBI. In April, she led a letter to the 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. That same month, she sent a letter with 31 Senators to secure increased funding for the Election Assistance Commission, the only federal agency whose sole mission is to help administer elections. 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.

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