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Dingell Introduces Legislation to Safeguard US Election Infrastructure

Washington, DC, November 8, 2017

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) introduced legislation to secure American voting systems against foreign interference. The Safeguarding Election Infrastructure Act of 2017 provides states with the information, intelligence and resources needed to protect electronic voting systems from manipulation and hacking, and to update aging infrastructure.

“Our democracy depends on free and fair elections, and we must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of that process,” said Dingell. “The reality is, many of our voting machines have not been updated in nearly two decades and are susceptible to cyberattacks. We know that foreign adversaries pay very close attention to our elections, and until we address these vulnerabilities, our democratic process is at risk. This legislation ensures states have the resources and intelligence necessary to protect voting equipment and safeguard our elections from outside interference.”

According to U.S. intelligence community assessments, at least 21 state election systems were targeted by Russia-affiliated hackers in an attempt to influence the 2016 election. Recent reports document the relative ease with which America’s voting systems can be hacked and manipulated. At the most recent DEF CON hacking conference, hackers and security researchers were able to compromise five different types of voting machines in less than a day. During an election, these same vulnerabilities would allow bad actors to change vote tallies or manipulate voter registration databases.

To address these issues, the Safeguarding Election Infrastructure Act:

  • Allows for state and local election officials to get the needed security clearances, so federal agencies can share relevant intelligence and information needed to protect voting systems.
  • Mandates every vote cast have a paper receipt and establishes a competitive grant program to help states update their voting machines. As it stands in some states, voters press a button and the machine tabulates the results. If a machine is compromised, election officials have no way to audit the results.
  • Election results are audited using a statistically significant sample of paper ballots if the winner of the race receives less than 59 percent of the vote.

Full text of the bill is available here.

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