Sarbanes, Thompson, Lofgren Introduce Comprehensive Election Security Reforms

Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) and Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) to introduce the Election Security Act (H.R. 2660), a bill to help protect American elections from malevolent attacks and foreign interference.

Among its many provisions, the Election Security Act would require states use paper ballots; establish cybersecurity standards for voting system vendors; fund grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems, provide cybersecurity training to election officials and implement post-election risk limiting audits; require the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to election systems 180 days before an election; require the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to issue recommendations to address threats; require the testing of voting systems nine months before an election; require the President to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions; and create a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions.

“With our intelligence agencies increasingly warning us about the impending foreign attacks on our elections in 2020, we must act quickly to shore up our defenses and protect our democracy,” said Congressman Sarbanes, the lead author of H.R. 1, the For the People Act. “The Election Security Act – a key provision of the historic H.R. 1 reform effort – will give states the resources they need to protect the integrity of our election system. I commend Chairman Thompson and Chairperson Lofgren for their leadership in swiftly moving this urgent effort forward.”

“With the 2020 elections just 18 months away, we cannot afford to be complacent about the security of our elections,” said Chairman Thompson. “Nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake. Russia successfully attacked our elections in 2016 and it is clear they will try to again next year. Despite repeated warnings from well-respected national security officials, the White House has failed to lead a whole-of-government effort to keep our adversaries out of our elections, so Congress will step up. Our top priority will be to ensure that the full range of capabilities from across the federal government are brought to bear to support the states in the shared responsibility of election security. Protecting the integrity of our elections should not be a partisan issue. I strongly urge my Republican colleagues to join us and start handling this issue with the seriousness and urgency it demands. The American people deserve no less than full confidence in their vote. I intend to help move this legislation through the House swiftly.”

“No matter your side of the aisle, our oath to the Constitution is fundamental,” said Chairperson Lofgren. “Federal action is needed now to protect our voting systems, which are at the core of our democracy. Solutions that can be implemented before the next federal election cycle in 2020 are essential and why I intend to quickly call up an election security bill for consideration in the Committee on House Administration.”

The Election Security Act was originally introduced by Congressman Thompson last year after he Co-Chaired the Congressional Task Force on Election Security. Congresswoman Lofgren was also a member of the Task Force. Major provisions of the legislation were included in H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which was authored by Congressman Sarbanes and passed the House earlier this year.