The Invest in Our Democracy Act would direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide grants in support of continuing education in election administration or cybersecurity for election officials and employees.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation to strengthen our elections by providing advanced training to state and local election officials. The jobs of election administrators have become more complex and demanding as state and local officials have had to make elections resilient during the pandemic while foreign adversaries have continued to target our elections. The Invest in Our Democracy Act would direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide grants in support of continuing education in election administration or cybersecurity for election officials and employees.
“Our intelligence officials have made clear that our election systems continue to be a target for foreign adversaries,” said Senator Klobuchar. “While federal and state officials have agreed that the 2020 election was ‘the most secure in American history,’ we must continue to do everything in our power to protect our democracy from the ongoing threat of foreign interference. That means making sure those who are on the front lines of administering elections have the training and resources they need to safeguard our election systems. The Invest in Our Democracy Act would ensure that election officials are prepared to improve cyber-defenses and election administration practices ahead of future elections.”
“Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is vital that we safeguard this institution in the midst of the current public health and economic crisis,” said Senator Collins. “In an effort to defend this cornerstone of our democracy, our bipartisan bill would help provide training and support to election officials who are dedicated to keeping our elections safe and secure.”
The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2021 would:
- Establish a grant program administered by the Election Assistance Commission to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of the yearly tuition of election officials and employees who are enrolled in an accredited certificate program for election administration or cybersecurity.
- Define eligible persons to include state or local election officials, employees of a State or local election official, or an employee of the EAC.
- Provide $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2023 and such sums necessary for each fiscal years between 2024 and 2030.
As the Chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee and one of the lead authors of the For the People Act, Senator Klobuchar has been a champion in the fight to strengthen our democracy. The For the People Act would implement sweeping pro-democracy reforms to make it easier to vote, end the dominance of big money in politics, and ensure that public officials work for the public interest. Important reforms in the bill include guaranteeing every American citizen full access to the ballot by combating voter intimidation and suppression, which are rooted in systemic racism; ending the corrupting power of dark money in our elections; and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering. The For the People Act would also expand access to our democracy by ensuring all Americans have access to early voting and voting by mail.
Klobuchar has consistently been a leader in the fight to protect our future elections from foreign interference. Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to share information on election practices with our international allies. The Global Electoral Exchange Act would establish an international information sharing program on election administration and security at the State Department.
In December 2017, Klobuchar and Collins introduced the Secure Elections Act with Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to strengthen election cybersecurity in America and protect against foreign interference in future elections. The Secure Elections Act streamlines cybersecurity information-sharing between federal intelligence entities and state election agencies; provides security clearances to state election officials; and provides resources for states to upgrade election security. This bipartisan solution would bolster our election systems against future threats while protecting states’ primacy in running elections.
In the previous Congress, Klobuchar reintroduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), then Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Graham carried on the bipartisan legacy of the bill from the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.