Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today helped lead the passage of the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act (H.R. 2722), a bill to strengthen election security and protect our democracy ahead of the 2020 election.
Building on the important election security reforms contained in H.R. 1, the For the People Act, the SAFE Act helps states modernize and improve their election systems, bolster their security capabilities and ensure the accuracy and integrity of the vote.
Imploring his Democratic and Republican colleagues to support the bill, Congressman Sarbanes said, “This is our chance to stand up against interference from foreign adversaries who are trying to hack in, sow discord, undermine our elections and create havoc here in our own country. This is fundamental to protecting our democracy.”
Congressman Sarbanes continued: “[House Democrats] were on the case from the beginning. We convened an Election Security Task Force, which was led by Zoe Lofgren and Bob Brady and Benny Thompson and others. And they looked at all of the best practices that we need to put in place to make sure that our elections are strong and sturdy, and how do we fortify them, and they produced those recommendations. We then took those recommendations and we put them into H.R. 1, the For The People Act, and we brought it to the floor and we passed those on March 8 of this year because we knew that this was a priority.”
Congressman Sarbanes concluded: “We have no time to waste. We need to get this done now if we’re going to be ready for the 2020 election. Bob Mueller came along with his report, and he said that the Russian interference was ‘sweeping and systematic’ in 2016. Every leader in our intelligence community has also echoed the fact that 2016 was a dress rehearsal for what’s coming in 2020. We need to be ready. We need to protect our elections. Let’s support the SAFE Act.”
Core provisions of the SAFE Act include:
- Authorizing $600 million for states to modernize and secure their election infrastructure;
- Authorizing $175 million every two years for states to maintain their 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 and help detect inaccuracies;
- Modernizing cybersecurity standards for election technology vendors and for voting systems;
- Creating a “qualified election infrastructure vendor” designation to hold election technology vendors accountable;
- Banning internet accessibility or connectivity on devices that mark or count ballots; and
- Requiring voting machines to be manufactured in the United States.