Senators Introduce Bill to Protect Election Systems from Cyberattacks

December 21, 2017

Washington, D.C. – Lawmakers in the Senate introduced legislation today that would help states prevent cyberattacks on election infrastructure and enhance confidence in vote totals from electronic voting machines. The bill comes amid ongoing revelations about Russia’s unprecedented attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.  
The Secure Elections Act is co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.). It aligns with recommendations in a June 2017 report — Securing Elections from Foreign Interference — from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. 
“With so many threats to the integrity of our elections, this bill is a welcome step forward in shielding our democracy from foreign interference,” said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and co-author of Securing Elections from Foreign Interference. “The steps outlined in this proposed bill are ones we believe will both secure our electoral systems and reaffirm voter confidence. Congress should act quickly and decisively to approve these commonsense reforms.”
The bill would foster more timely and thorough communication on election security issues; authorize federal funds for cities and states to run risk assessments and address any shortcomings; help states replace old voting machines with new ones that create back-up paper ballots from every vote; and create an advisory panel to develop guidelines on best practices in election cybersecurity issues.
“It can sometimes seem like everything falls victim to partisan bickering in Washington, D.C., but there are some issues where there should be no disagreement,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel in the Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C., office. “It's heartening to see bipartisan consensus on shoring up our national election infrastructure. Secure, trustworthy election systems are essential to protecting a free and fair democracy.”
Similar legislation was introduced in the House in September by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.). Langevin is co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.
Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on securing voting infrastructure and preventing foreign interference here.  

To schedule an interview with a Brennan Center expert, please contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646-292-8316.