WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took to the Senate floor to call for action on election security legislation. She asked for unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of S.1540, the Election Security Act and Senator James Lankford (R-OK) objected.
“Russia invaded our democracy. They didn’t use bombs, jets, or tanks. Instead, they planned a sophisticated cyber mission to undermine our democratic system,” Klobuchar said in her remarks.
“The integrity of our election system is the cornerstone of our democracy. The freedom to choose our leaders and know with full confidence that those leaders were chosen in free and fair elections, that is something that Americans have fought and died for since our country was founded. You can go back to 1923 when Stalin said you know what? To the Communist Party. Who votes? That may not matter. What matters is who counts the votes.
“History is repeating itself, and obstructing efforts to improve election security is an insult to those who have fought for our freedom and those who work every day to protect our democracy. So I don't want to hear about how this is a partisan effort to try to push this right now, because this is not about one election or one party. It's about our democracy. We need to be a united front in fighting against those who interfere with our democracy, and we must do everything in our power to prevent foreign interference from letting this ever happen again.
“This is the bill this should be on because it is the Defense Authorization Act, it is about the security of our country, and free and fair elections. That is the fundamental basis for the security of America. I look forward to working with my colleagues. I hope we will find some way to overcome these objections from the White House.”
Video of Klobuchar’s remarks is available here.
As the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight over federal elections, Klobuchar has been leading the fight to protect our future elections from foreign interference.
Last month, Klobuchar introduced the Election Security Act with 40 Senate cosponsors. The Election Security Act would require backup paper ballots, provide $1 billion in election security grants to states for cybersecurity improvements and audits, strengthen federal response to election security interference, and establish accountability measures for election technology vendors.
Earlier this year, Klobuchar reintroduced the Honest Ads Act with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements. Graham carries 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.
In 2018, Klobuchar introduced the Secure Elections Act with Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Burr (R-NC), Mark Warner (D-VA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Angus King (I-ME), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 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.
Klobuchar has also led on other election security legislation including the Global Electoral Exchange Act and the Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019.
Klobuchar has sent numerous letters urging departments, agencies, and private companies to improve election security. This month, she sent a letter with Senator Wyden (D-OR) to the FBI asking them to clarify the steps they’ve taken to investigate problems with VR Systems, an election systems vendor that has undergone speculations of hacking in the 2016 election. In April, she led a letter to the DHS and FBI, urging them to establish a task force combining the efforts of social media platforms, local election officials, and also reporters and independent researchers, in finding and stopping disinformation and misinformation campaigns. In March, Klobuchar and the Ranking Members of the Committees on Homeland Security, Armed Services, and Intelligence sent a letter to the three biggest voting machine companies in the US asking tough questions about election security. Klobuchar has also sent numerous letters to the DHS and its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), urging them to prioritize election security measures.