Duckworth Helps Introduce Bill Requiring States to Secure Elections
The Protecting American Votes and Elections Act Mandates Paper Ballots and Risk-Limiting Audits in All Federal Elections
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) today in introducing expanded legislation to protect American elections from foreign interference by mandating hand-marked paper ballots and setting new cybersecurity standards for all federal elections. The Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act of 2019 would require states to use paper ballots and statistically rigorous “risk-limiting” audits for all federal elections – two measures recommended by experts in a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2018? report on election security.
“Americans deserve safe and secure elections that aren’t threatened by foreign adversaries. In Illinois, a state whose election database Special Counsel Mueller confirmed the Russians broke into, this investment is critical to protect our voting system,” Duckworth said. “Senator Wyden’s PAVE Act, which requires paper ballots and post-election audits, is a common-sense approach to upholding the integrity of each American’s vote and strengthening our election security. In the aftermath of the special counsel’s investigation into the 2016 election, this legislation is more important than ever.”
“The Russian government interfered in American elections in 2016 and if we don't stop them, they and other governments are going to do it again. The administration refuses to do what it takes to protect our democracy, so Congress has to step up. Our bill will give voters the confidence they need that our elections are secure,” Wyden said. “The PAVE Act scraps insecure voting machines that are juicy targets for hackers and replaces them with reliable, secure hand-marked paper ballots. It gives states the funding they need to defend their election systems and puts the Department of Homeland Security in charge of setting strong security standards for every federal election.”
The new PAVE Act bans internet, WiFi and cellular connections for voting machines, and gives the Department of Homeland Security the authority to set, for the first time, minimum cybersecurity standards for voting machines, voter registration databases, electronic poll books used to “check in” voters at polling places and election night reporting websites.
The bill also provides state and local governments with $500 million to buy new, secure ballot scanning machines, and $250 million to buy new ballot marking devices to be used by voters with disabilities. It also permits the federal government to reimburse states the cost of conducting post-elections audits, as well as the cost of designing and printing ballots.
These measures, collectively, are necessary to fix the vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure highlighted by Russia in 2016, to secure our elections from foreign hackers and give voters confidence in election results.
The PAVE Act is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Brian Schatz (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Kamala Harris (D-CA). Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-3) is introducing the companion bill in the House of Representatives.
The PAVE Act has been endorsed by leading cybersecurity experts, voting rights groups and fair elections advocates, including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy, National Election Defense Coalition, Fair Fight Action and American Statistical Association.
Stacey Abrams, Founder, Fair Fight Action.
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