Having heard the testimony of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Americans are understandably concerned about Russia’s interference in our nation’s elections.
Mueller described efforts to hack voter data, spread misinformation through social media, and hack voting systems in some states to change the ballots of everyday, American voters.
Thanks primarily to Republicans, who held the majority in Congress during the last mid-term election, the federal government provided hundreds of millions of dollars to states to bolster their election infrastructure and security efforts. Those efforts paid off in the 2018 election, which proceeded without the same issues we saw in 2016.
However, that’s not the narrative that Democrats continue to push in the media or to the American people.
Instead of working with their Republican colleagues to create legislation that would protect American voters, we continue to hear false claims that Republicans don’t want to secure elections and careless, pointed attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, including an implication that McConnell’s decision not to take up their partisan election legislation makes him a Russian operative.
As the top Republican on the House Committee that has jurisdiction over federal elections generally, securing elections is one of my most urgent priorities, and many of my Republican colleagues share this sentiment.
That’s why I, along with my Republican colleagues on the Committee on House Administration, introduced H.R. 3412, the Election Security Assistance Act. The bill is designed to assist states in bolstering election security through several methods.
First, we provide $380 million in funding, with a match from states, to update their aging and at-risk election technology. We understand that each state has unique citizens with unique needs. We aren’t mandating that states use the same voting method. Instead, we are making sure the method they choose as best for their state is secure and efficient, so every American’s vote is counted and protected.
Also, the Election Security Assistance Act grants security clearances to local officials to be notified of any threats or hacking attempts to their election system. Currently, if the voting machines in my home state of Illinois were hacked by a foreign entity, the local election officials who administer those elections would not be notified. We want to make sure they are.
Finally, our bill increases resources for election officials with programs such as the Election Cyber Assistance Unit, so as to connect state and local election officials with leading election cybersecurity experts across the country. Every state election official may not be an expert on cybersecurity, so our aim is to provide them with the resources they need to make sure they are practicing good cyber habits.
While we believe, unlike our colleagues across the aisle, that voting methods and election technology should not be federally mandated, we can agree that no one wants foreign interference in our elections. Election security should not be a partisan issue.
I hope our Democratic colleagues will choose to join us, but in the meantime, Republicans have been working and will continue to ensure our elections are protected and every American can trust their voting system.
Rodney Davis, a Republican, has represented Illinois’ 13th congressional district since 2013.
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