We Must Act Now to Protect Against Russian Cyberattacks on State Voting Systems in 2018

We Must Act Now to Protect Against Russian Cyberattacks on State Voting Systems in 2018

Constituents must apply pressure on Congress to pass a bill that would incentivize states to abandon voting machines and switch to paper ballots and harden defenses against cyberattacks on voter rolls and equipment.

We Must Act Now to Protect Against Russian Cyberattacks on State Voting Systems in 2018

By Nick Knudsen
Updated 4:17 PM ET, Tue February 20, 2018

Voting is the foundation of every democratic system. The corruption or ineffectiveness of voting infrastructure is inherently corrosive to a democracy’s foundation, and can lead to degradation of faith in the accuracy of the results, to compromised elections, and even to fraudulent outcomes.

American voting systems were in fact compromised in 2016, and could be compromised again during the critical 2018 midterms unless measures are taken immediately to safeguard against attacks from Russia and/or other nefarious actors who would politically benefit from further US destabilization.

There are draft bills in the House and Senate that aim to bolster election integrity by upgrading vulnerable election infrastructure. It is critical that these measures pass with enough time to complete upgrades prior to the midterms. This article will outline: 1) why and how American elections are vulnerable to attack; 2) the solution proposed by Congress, and; 3) an overview of actions that citizens can take to apply political pressure and help ensure passage of these measures and helpful state-level measures.
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Demand Congress provide funds to states to upgrade voting systems

Use Contacting Congress or the House/Senate switchboard (202-225-3121)/(202-224-3121) to connect with your members of Congress.

The Call –  #ProtectOurVote

Russia hacked into state voter systems in the 2016 election, successfully penetrating several of the systems in the 21 states they attempted to hack.

The heads of the U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously testified last week before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia is determined to interfere with our mid-term elections and could cause havoc by tampering with state voter systems.

Our state election systems desperately need to be upgraded: one in four U.S. voters vote on a system with no paper trail, and many others vote on systems that give the voter a receipt, but leave no paper trail that would allow the state to audit the accuracy of the vote count.

Many states have been attempting to harden their systems against cyberattacks, but many lack the funds and expertise to adequately do so before the 2018 elections.

Last week, House Democrats issued a comprehensive review of state voter system vulnerabilities and a bill, the Election Security Act, a key provision of which is to provide funds to states to upgrade to systems with a paper trail that can be audited.

A similar bipartisan Senate bill, the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), was introduced in December and would provide federal funding to incentivize states to upgrade their systems to provide an auditable paper trail.
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Protect the Nov. election from Russia by passing the DETER Act

Use Contacting Congress or the House/Senate switchboard (202-225-3121)/(202-224-3121) to connect with your members of Congress.

The Call –  #DETERAct

On Tuesday, the Trump-appointed heads of US intelligence agencies testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia meddled in our 2016 elections, continues its attack on our political system and is determined to interfere with our mid-term elections.

Despite the intelligence agencies’ consensus, Trump has declined to impose sanctions on Russia, which Congress passed by overwhelming majorities. Trump has claimed, despite the evidence, that the mere threat of sanctions is a sufficient deterrent.

In spite of the president’s inaction, Congress must defend the nation’s elections from foreign interference.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Von Hollen (D-MD) recently introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Red Lines Act (“DETER”). The DETER Act would automatically impose severe sanctions on Russia if Putin interferes in our elections by using traditional or social media to spread false information to Americans, or tamper in any way with state election systems, including registration databases and campaign emails. A bipartisan House companion bill currently has 7 co-sponsors.
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Demand a House vote on DACA to protect Dreamers


Use Contacting Congress or the House switchboard (202-225-3121) to connect with your House Representative.

The Call –  #ProtectDreamers

The Senate passed a bipartisan 2-year budget on Wednesday which did not address the Dreamers, but extracted a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring Dreamer legislation to the floor of the Senate next week, provided the Democrats do not shut down the government.

The House is set to take up the Senate budget on Thursday, but on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) set a record for longest House speech when she took to the House floor to give an emotional 8 hour speech in support of the Dreamers with the intention to pressure House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to bring Dreamer legislation to the House floor.

In exchange for protecting Dreamers, Trump has demanded everything on Stephen Miller’s immigration wish list, including $20 billion for a wall and extreme and racially-motivated changes to US immigration laws meant to appease his base. The Republican House Freedom Caucus is supporting the president’s plan.

There is tremendous public support for the Dreamers and while it is unlikely Ryan will commit now to bring Dreamer legislation to the floor,  bipartisan pressure continues to increase and there will be strong public pressure, including by Republicans, to bring any deal the Senate makes to the House floor.

Many Democrats, including Pelosi, will vote against the budget deal. Other Democrats are concerned that a shutdown could backfire on Dreamers by giving the Freedom Caucus the ability to cut a deal to end a shutdown without Democratic votes in exchange for Speaker Ryan’s promise not to bring Dreamer legislation to the floor absent poison pills unacceptable to Democrats.
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Support the Dream Act with rational border security


Use Contacting Congress or the House/Senate switchboard (202-225-3121)/(202-224-3121) to connect with your members of Congress.

The Call –  #ProtectDreamers

An overwhelming majority of Americans want the Dreamers to stay in the US, but Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant base opposes DACA relief and demands a useless border wall and extreme and racist changes to US immigration laws.

Trump has flip-flopped between pandering to his base and respecting public opinion in protecting the Dreamers, but is now taking a hard line position at odds with most Republicans in Congress.

In exchange for protecting Dreamers, Trump has demanded everything on Stephen Miller’s immigration wish list including $20 billion for a wall and extreme and racially-motivated changes to US immigration laws meant to appease his base.

Dreamers should not be held hostage to Trump’s racist and extreme anti-immigrant agenda. Congress must cut a narrow deal to pass the Dream Act to protect Dreamers, along with reasonable border security measures.

Any Republican in Congress who fails to support a solution to protect the Dreamers with reasonable border security is to blame for catering to the white nationalist elements in the base.
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