Keynote address was part of Center for American Progress’ event titled Election Security in 50 States: Defending America’s Elections
Speech comes week after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said we aren’t “better prepared” than we were in 2016 to stop Russia from interfering in our democracy in 2018; Last month CIA Director Pompeo said that Russia is currently working to disrupt U.S. elections
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) today gave a keynote address at the Center for American Progress’ event titled Election Security in 50 States: Defending America’s Elections. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson spoke after Klobuchar to reiterate the importance of securing our election systems before the next election. In her address, Klobuchar called out Congressional inaction as Russia continues to attack and attempt to influence U.S. elections and offered a six-part legislative solution to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference. During the 2016 election, intelligence reports established that Russia hacked presidential campaign accounts, launched cyberattacks against at least 21 state election systems, and attacked a US voting systems software company. Despite bipartisan support, no substantial legislative actions have been passed into law to prevent foreign adversaries from interfering in upcoming elections.
Klobuchar 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 by providing $386 million in grants
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 full extent of Russia’s role in the 2016 election and issue guidance on how to prevent future attacks
“The right to free and fair elections is the very heart of our freedoms in America,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This is a pivotal moment. How does the saying go? Hack me once, shame on you. Hack me twice, shame on us. We know what they did, we know they will do it again. We have the solutions, and we must act. So it is time to set our differences aside and get it done.”
Broadcast-quality video of Klobuchar’s remarks in the hearing are available here.
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 Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), 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 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.