WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released the below statement on the first federal primary election of 2018 being held in Texas today, and the lack of Congressional action on legislation to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference. Top U.S. intelligence officials have said Russia interfered in the 2016 election and are working to do it again in the future.
“Today is Election Day—a day that comes with excitement and pride in our country and in the democratic process. But as Texans go to the polls today to participate in our democracy, Congress continues to do nothing to protect it. We know Russia interfered in our last election, yet since then we’ve had no hearings, no votes, and no real action to protect our elections from future interference by our adversaries. There are bipartisan solutions on the table that Congress could and should act on immediately—elections have started—there’s no more time to wait.”
Klobuchar has urged Senate action on already-introduced legislation that would prevent future election interference in six ways: (1) Help states protect their voting systems from cyberattacks; (2) Ensure states have voter verified paper ballot backup systems; (3) Help prevent disinformation campaigns designed to divide our country by ensuring online political ads are covered by the same rules as political advertisements that run on TV and radio; (4) Help block foreign money from influencing our political system; (5) Impose Russian sanctions overwhelmingly approved by Congress; (6) Investigate the full extent of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and issue guidance on how to prevent future attacks.
As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, Klobuchar has introduced legislation to improve the security of U.S. election systems and protect our country’s elections from future foreign influence. In December, Klobuchar introduced the Secure Elections Act with James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) 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 October, Klobuchar introduced the Honest Ads Act with U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. 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.
Klobuchar and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) have also introduced the bipartisan Stop Foreign Donations Affecting Our Elections Act to strengthen disclosure by requiring federal campaigns to use existing credit card verification protocols to help verify that online credit card donations come from U.S. sources. In June, Klobuchar introduced the Helping State and Local Governments Prevent Cyber Attacks Act to help combat foreign interference by providing state and local governments with the information and resources they need to keep our elections secure and improve voter confidence.
In addition, Klobuchar has led Senate Rules Committee Democrats in a call for hearings and briefings on foreign attempts to hack into U.S. election systems and improving cybersecurity. Klobuchar also led a group of 26 senators in calling for a full account of the Election Assistance Commission’s (EAC) efforts to address Russian cybersecurity threats. In January 2017, Klobuchar introduced legislation with four other senators to create an independent, nonpartisan commission to comprehensively investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.