WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to strengthen the security of U.S. election infrastructure by requiring that voting systems undergo simulated attacks as part of their standard certification process. Specifically, the Strengthening Election Cybersecurity to Uphold Respect for Elections through Independent Testing (SECURE IT) Act would direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to require that systems seeking certification undergo penetration testing, a practice that allows researchers to search for vulnerabilities by attempting to attack a system with the same tools and techniques used by cybercriminals.
“If we’re going to defeat our adversaries, we have to be able to think like they do. The SECURE IT Act would allow researchers to step into the shoes of cybercriminals and uncover vulnerabilities and weaknesses that might not be found otherwise,” said Sen. Warner. “As foreign and domestic adversaries continue to target U.S. democracy, I’m proud to introduce legislation to harness a critical cybersecurity practice that will help safeguard our elections infrastructure.”
“This bipartisan legislation will strengthen the integrity of our election process by ensuring that voting systems are safe and secure,” said Sen. Collins. “It will help protect and bolster public confidence in our elections.”
Current regulations under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) require the EAC to provide for the testing and certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories. However, HAVA does not explicitly require penetration testing of voting systems.
This legislation would direct the EAC to require that a voting system undergo cybersecurity penetration testing in order to be certified. It would also direct the EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to accredit entities that can perform penetration testing to fulfill the aforementioned requirement. Additionally, the legislation would direct the EAC to create a voluntary Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure Program for election systems. Under this program, vetted researchers would be given access to voting systems voluntarily provided by manufacturers in order to discover vulnerabilities and disclose them to the manufacturer and EAC.
“This bill will allow independent election system researchers like myself to contribute more fully to the maintaining public confidence in our elections. The SECURE IT Act will create a space where researchers and election systems manufacturers can work together to find—and fix—any cybersecurity vulnerability that may exist in our election infrastructure,” said Dr. Juan E. Gilbert, Chair of the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida.
“ES&S has long supported and taken part in independent testing of its elections equipment,” said Tom Burt, CEO and president of Election Systems & Software, the largest manufacturer of voting systems in the United States. “Programmatic testing performed by independent security experts helps ensure equipment stays ahead of threats, and it helps increase voter confidence in the overall security of elections. I appreciate Senator Warner’s and Senator Collins’ work to further secure our nation’s elections.”
Warner & Kaine Cosponsor Bill to Strengthen Campaign Finance Laws and Improve Transparency of Political Spending in Elections
Mar 02 2023
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine cosponsored the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, legislation led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), to strengthen campaign finance laws, improve transparency around political spending in federal elections, and make government more accountable to the will of voters. Outside group spending in federal elections has skyrocketed since the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Many of the biggest spenders, such as certain corporations, special interests, and political groups, are not required under current law to disclose their donors, making it difficult to understand how dark money is influencing elections. The DISCLOSE Act would require organizations and lobbyists spending money in elections to disclose their large donors and certify that they’re not using foreign money for election spending.
“The American public should be able to see who is spending money in federal elections,” said Warner and Kaine. “This bill is an overdue step to improve transparency and accountability, help ensure foreign governments aren’t interfering in U.S. elections, and strengthen our democracy.”
The DISCLOSE Act contains important safeguards against special interest influence. Specifically, the bill would:
- Prohibit domestic companies with significant foreign control, ownership, or direction from spending money in U.S. elections. Under current law, foreign nationals and foreign corporations are prohibited from engaging in any election spending, but domestic companies with significant foreign ownership are not subject to the same restrictions.
- Strengthen measures to prevent foreign governments and their agents from interfering in U.S. elections, including in state and local ballot measures.
- Crack down on the use of shell corporations to hide the identity of donors by requiring companies spending money in elections to disclose their true owners.
- Require organizations running political ads to include “stand by your ad” disclaimers indicating the top funders that are paying for them.
- Require groups that spend money on ads supporting or opposing judicial nominees to disclose their donors. The legislation would identify donors who fund advocacy campaigns aimed at confirming their favored nominees.
Warner and Kaine have cosponsored this legislation in previous Congresses and have long supported efforts to strengthen our democracy, fight political corruption, and protect the right to vote. Earlier this week, Warner reintroduced the Honest Ads Act, legislation that would improve the transparency and accountability of online political advertising. The senators are also strong supporters of the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, legislation negotiated by Kaine to improve access to the ballot for Americans. They have cosponsored the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore safeguards against potential restrictive changes to voting rules.
Full text of the bill is available here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, is cosponsoring comprehensive legislation to address the rise in threats targeting election workers. The Election Worker Protection Act would provide states with the resources to recruit and train election workers and ensure these workers’ safety, while also instituting federal safeguards to shield election workers from intimidation and threats.
“Because of their roles on the front lines of our democracy, local election workers have been subjected to increasing harassment and violent threats from those seeking to overturn the results of lawfully conducted elections,” said Sen. Warner. “As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m disturbed that so many Americans, including a former president, have been so enthusiastically willing to aid and abet adversaries like China and Russia in undermining confidence in our elections and faith in our democratic process. As we face this new and unfortunate reality, we should take steps to ensure that election workers have the support and protection they need to do their jobs safely.”
The Election Worker Protection Act would:
- Establish grants to states and certain local governments for poll worker recruitment, training, and retention, as well as grants for election worker safety;
- Direct the Department of Justice to provide training resources regarding the identification and investigation of threats to election workers;
- Provide grants to states to support programs protecting election workers’ personally identifiable information;
- Establish threatening, intimidating, or coercing election workers as a federal crime;
- Expand the prohibition on voter intimidation in current law to apply to the counting of ballots, canvassing, and certification of elections;
- Extend the federal prohibition on doxing to include election workers; and
- Protect the authority of election officials to remove poll observers who are interfering with or attempting to disrupt the administration of an election.
As Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner has been outspoken on the need to protect American democracy from those seeking to undermine confidence in the security of our elections and overturn the results of fairly conducted elections. As a leader of the Intelligence Committee, he released a groundbreaking, bipartisan and comprehensive investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. More recently, he introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, legislation to institute new federal safeguards insulating state election administration from partisan pressure. He also just negotiated and introduced bipartisan legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president, which passed out of the Senate Rules Committee earlier this week in a bipartisan 14-1 vote.
WASHINGTON — Today, after months of bipartisan negotiations, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) joined Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and a bipartisan group of colleagues in introducing two proposals which include legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President.
In addition to Sens. Warner, Collins, and Manchin the senators involved in the bipartisan negotiations include: Rob Portman (R-OH), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of election experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President. We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, commonsense reforms.”
In developing the bills, the senators received input from state election officials, as well as from an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) also provided helpful insight.
“Debates over the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with suspicion and jockeying for advantage. When these rules change, there must be buy-in from both parties to maintain trust in the system,” said Matthew Weil, Executive Director of the Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “This bipartisan Senate framework is a critical step for shoring up ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act. These senators, especially Sens. Manchin and Collins, should be commended for finding common ground on a matter that is so foundational to our democracy: faith in the system that selects our leaders.”
“We are impressed with the draft Electoral Count Act reform legislation developed by a bipartisan Senate working group, including Senators Collins, Manchin, Romney, and Murphy,” said Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, co-chairs of the Presidential Reform Project. “Our work on these reform issues, which has included co-chairing a group of experts convened by the American Law Institute (ALI), has convinced us that major improvements in the current law are both urgent and achievable. We believe the legislation as proposed will help curtail threats to future presidential elections that would erode the foundational democratic principles of our country. It merits broad support.”
The first bill, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Sinema, Romney, Shaheen, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Capito, Cardin, Young, Coons, Sasse, and Graham. The bill includes the following provisions:
1) Electoral Count Reform Act. This section would reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. It would replace ambiguous provisions of the 19th-century law with clear procedures that maintain appropriate state and federal roles in selecting the President and Vice President of the United States as set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Click here for a one-pager on the Electoral Count Act reform section.
2) Presidential Transition Improvement Act. This section would help to promote the orderly transfer of power by providing clear guidelines for when eligible candidates for President or Vice President may receive federal resources to support their transition into office. Click here for a one-pager on the presidential transition section.
The second bill, the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act, is co-sponsored by Senators Collins, Manchin, Portman, Shaheen, Romney, Sinema, Murkowski, Warner, Tillis, Murphy, Coons, and Cardin. The bill includes the following provisions:
1) Enhanced Penalties to Protect Our Elections Act. This section would double the penalty under federal law for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters, or candidates. Under current law, threats of violence or intimidation against these individuals are punishable by no more than one year in prison. This penalty would be raised to no more than two years in prison.
2) Postal Service Election Improvement Act. This section aims to improve the handling of election mail by the U.S. Postal Service and provide guidance to states to improve their mail-in ballot processes where permitted under state law.
3) Election Assistance Commission Reauthorization. This section would reauthorize the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for 5 years, and require the EAC to conduct cyber security testing as part of its testing and certification process for voting systems. Established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the EAC is an independent agency that helps states improve the administration and security of federal elections. The EAC administers grants to states and develops non-binding guidance and best practices for election officials in various areas, including cybersecurity, election audits, and voting accessibility. The authorization for the EAC, which is led by two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, expired in fiscal year 2005, although the agency has continued to receive annual appropriations for operations.
4) Election Records Protection Act. This section would clarify that current law requires electronic election records be preserved. It would also increase the existing maximum penalties for individuals who willfully steal, destroy, conceal, mutilate, or alter election records from $1,000 to $10,000 and from up to one year in prison to up to two years in prison. In addition, it would make it illegal to tamper with voting systems.