ELECTION SECURITY UPDATES_

Every day, national security and election interference are leading issues on Capitol Hill. Two bipartisan bills have passed the Senate by unanimous consent in the past two months.


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 Here’s the latest:

  • October 8 - The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report supporting new disclosure requirements for online political ads. "The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 requires political ads on television, radio, and satellite to disclose the sponsor of the advertisement. The same requirements should apply online." The report also reaffirmed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, targeting both Republicans and Democrats.

  • October 4 - The New York Times reported that Iranian hackers targeted President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

  • October 4 - Microsoft announced that hackers with the apparent backing of the Iranian government had launched 2,700 cyberattacks in September, including against U.S. government officials, journalists, and at least one presidential campaign.

  • October 3 - CNN reports that FBI and Department of Homeland Security have warned states that Russia "might seek to covertly discourage or suppress U.S. voters from participating in next year's election."

  • October 2 - Russian President Vladimir Putin joked at a conference that Russia plans to interfere in the 2020 election.

  • October 1 - The National Association of Secretaries of State released a wide-ranging cybersecurity resources guide for Secretaries of State and their staffs.

  • September 30 - The U.S. government announces new sanctions on four entities and seven individuals related to Russian election interference.

  • September 26 - Issue One, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and the Center for Democracy & Technology briefed Capitol Hill staff on election security challenges and solutions ahead of 2020.

  • September 26 - DEF CON's Voting Machine Hacking Village reports that new electronic voting machines hare critical weaknesses that open the election process to attacks.

  • September 23 - Republican Arizona Senator Martha McSally co-sponsored the DETER Act (Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act of 2019).

  • September 20 - Microsoft will offer state and local election officials free security support for Windows 7 operating systems used in voting systems through 2020.

  • September 20 - Reps. Bill Posey (R-FL) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) co-sponsored the Honest Ads Act, bringing the total number of sponsors in the House and Senate to 39.

  • September 19 - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walked back his opposition to further securing our elections and said he is now willing to support additional grant money to the states.

  • September 19 - Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he considers election security an enduring mission for the Department of Defense, noting that adversaries "will continue to target our democratic processes."

  • September 18 - Conservative and national security leaders held a press conference calling on Congress to pass bills to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.

  • September 18 - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed election security and privacy with a group of senators over dinner.

  • September 18 - The executive director of the Election Assistance Commission will not serve another term, following a deadlocked 2-2 vote by sitting commissioners.

  • September 18 - A new study found that foreign entities have been targeting American veterans, service members and their families through social media disinformation campaigns.

  • September 18 - Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jack Reed (D-RI) introduced the Combating Foreign Influence Act. It would require the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to establish a center that would compile and analyze intelligence on foreign entities trying to interfere in U.S. elections.

  • September 17 - Facebook removed hundreds of accounts and pages linked to campaigns in Iraq and Ukraine to spread disinformation that were also backed by more than $1.6 million in ads.

  • September 16 - Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist and retired intelligence officer Tony Shaffer called on Senate Republicans to take the lead on election security.

  • September 16 - A bipartisan group of digital consultants started a public push this week for lawmakers to address online advertising transparency and other issues facing political marketers. Read their statement.

  • September 13 - Two election administrators in Michigan — a Republican and a Democrat — wrote about the need for more election security funding as the state prepares for the 2020 election.

  • August 31 - The Federal Election Commission effectively shut down today after its vice chair - who was one of only four remaining commissioners - resigned. The agency that oversees federal election law needs at least four commissioners out of a possible six to make rules, hold meetings, and conduct other critical business.

  • August 22 - CISA's new strategic plan states that "one of the highest-profile threats we face today is attempts by nation-state actors to maliciously interfere in our democratic elections."

  • August 22 - Christopher Krebs, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), says he spends "40 to 50%" of his time on election security issues.

  • August 22 - Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos (D) tells Vermont voters that “election security is my #1 top priority.”

  • August 21 - Facebook announced it removed multiple accounts on Facebook and Instagram for "engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior" in Myanmar.

  • August 21 - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says he has not "foreclosed doing more in appropriations" to provide money to states for election security.

  • August 21 - Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R) supports more federal funding going to states for election security as long as Congress recognizes "the authority of states in administering elections and does not confuse it with election reform." Pate is also president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

  • August 20 - 58% of Americans believe the U.S. government should provide additional funding to the states to help them upgrade the security of their election equipment, according to a new Brookings Institution survey.

  • August 19 - Twitter and Facebook suspended numerous accounts believes to be tied to a state-backed information campaign originating from inside China. Twitter will ban state-controlled media entities from advertising on the platform.

  • August 16 - Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) says, "We’re securing our elections with state resources, but there is a federal need. This is a national crisis.”

  • August 15 - Kentucky Director of Elections Jared Dearing (D) told the Election Assistance Commission, "The cliff that is looming before us is that we are failing to fund [local officials] appropriately for critical infrastructure in their own offices...We need more [election security funding]."

  • August 15 - Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D) said additional federal funding is the best way Congress can help states shore up election security and ward off cyberattacks.

  • August 13 - House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) sends a letter to the Committee calling on the chairman to hold hearings and develop a "legislative roadmap to combat Russian interference in future elections."

  • August 13 - President Trump reiterates his call for election security reform to require voter identification proposals.

  • August 9 - The top cybersecurity official at Homeland Security said that backup paper ballots would be a necessary part of 2020 election security and that "Congress has a role" to play in election security and those conversations need to happen "with greater speed and greater aggressiveness."

  • August 8 - Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) requested a follow-up briefing from officials at the Justice Department, FBI, and Homeland Security for the full Florida congressional delegation. They both also sponsored the Achieving Lasting Electoral Reforms on Transparency and Security (ALERTS Act), H.R. 3529, in July.

  • August 6 - U.S. CyberDome, a nonprofit, begins offering free cybersecurity services to political campaigns and parties. Its board of advisers includes former Homeland Security Secretaries Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell. 

  • August 2 - The Washington Post Editorial Board endorses the DETER Act, legislation sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). 

  • August 2 - Politico launches an ongoing investigation into the weaknesses of paperless voting systems across the United States.

  • July 31 - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tells reporters he’s “open to suggestions” and that maybe both parties can “reach an agreement” to further improve election security.

  • July 31 - Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) supports greater election security but emphasizes that he does not want to federalize state election operations. 

  • June 30 - President Donald Trump calls for requiring valid identification to vote and the use of paper ballots as backups.

  • July 30 - Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) co-sponsor the Honest Ads Act. 

  • July 30 - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) co-sponsors the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act.

  • July 29 - Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) send a letter urging their colleagues on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to consider adding their DETER Act to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 final conference report. 

  • June 27 - PASSED: U.S. House passes the Securing America's Federal Elections (SAFE) Act which would invest in upgrades to help secure voting systems against foreign intrusion.

  • July 25 - The New York Times reports that Facebook’s political advertising library - voluntarily developed to fight foreign disinformation - is deeply flawed and unreliable.

  • July 25 - The Senate Intelligence Committee releases its report on the 2016 election interference by Russia, highlighting that there are systemic weaknesses at the state and local levels. 

  • July 24 - Special Counsel Robert Mueller warns that Russia continues to try and interfere in our elections and that in 2020, other foreign actors will join them. 

  • July 23 - FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies to Congress that, “The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections…” and that “until they stop, they haven’t been deterred enough.”

  • July 21 - Election Assistance Commission emphasizes that states need to ensure elections are secure and accessible. 

  • July 18 - States need additional funding to address election security vulnerabilities, according to a new report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy, Brennan Center for Justice, R Street, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security.

  • July 17 - PASSED: U.S. Senate unanimously passes the bipartisan Defending Integrity of Voting Systems Act that makes hacking into any voting systems used in federal elections a crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

  • July 17 - 10 Republican and Democratic Secretaries of State plead for more money to defend and modernize their voting systems.

  • July 16 - Issue One delivers a letter to every member of Congress urging bipartisan action to defend against foreign interference in our elections. 

  • July 15 - Issue One’s Don’t Mess With US project delivers election security background materials to every U.S. Senate office. 

  • June 26 - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says private companies do not have the tools to stop Russia from interfering in U.S. elections and need help from governments to be successful.

  • June 25 - Reps. Gregory Steube (R-FL) and Lori Trahan (D-MA) co-sponsor the Honest Ads Act.

  • June 4 - PASSED: U.S. Senate unanimously passes the bipartisan Defending Elections Against Trolls from Enemy Regimes (DETER) Act which prevents foreign actors who have interfered in our elections from entering the United States. 

  • May 23 - The Federal Election Commission approves a request from the nonprofit Defending Digital Campaigns allowing it to offer free cybersecurity services to political campaigns. Veteran Republican and Democratic campaign managers Matt Rhoades and Robby Mook serve on its board, as well as Debora Plunkett, former director at the National Security Agency.