It’s time for those of us who are a part of the resistance to call our US Congress representatives to push for better protections against nefarious actor/ adversarial foreign governments from having the ability to hack US voting machines before the 2020 November elections. Ask them to support bill S.2261 or any similar type legislation.
Action: Advocate for hack-proofing voting protections before November 2020.
Call: Your two Senators (look up).
Script: Hi. I’m from [ZIP], calling about protecting the vote. Our democracy is vulnerable if we don’t learn a lesson from 2016 and protect ourselves. I would like [name] to make election security a priority, especially by co-sponsoring the bipartisan 2018 Secure Elections Act [S.2261] that allows states to both assess their risks and enact proven measures that protect the integrity of our vote. Thank you.
TO FAX: Resistbot will do it all for you. Text “RESIST” to 50409 or message Resistbot on Facebook and it will walk you through the steps to fax your Senator and will tell you when your fax has been delivered.
The main US Senate phone line 202-225-3121 (202-224-3121) or YOU CAN FIND PHONE NUMBERS FOR EVERY SENATOR HERE. or U.S. Senate: Senators of the 115th Congress.
I like to use the phone number 877-650-0039 as a tool to contact lawmakers or use this reference. Find Your Representative · House.gov – U.S. House of Representatives
The GOP in the US Congress and the White House have done virtually nothing to very little to prevent a repeat in 2020 of what happened in 2016, when Russia hacked into US computer systems tied to the US presidential elections, and then launched a full throttle campaign of disinformation and propaganda in the US designed to interfere with our 2010 elections.
Even the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared, that “I have every expectation that they (Russians) will continue to try’ to meddle in House and Senate races,” like this is no big deal. Oh, hum, like what else is new. The FBI Director Mr. Wray has been sounding the alarms to how vulnerable the US elections systems still are to external manipulations, ahead of the 2020 elections cycle.
We can’t get a straight answer as to what steps are currently being taken by the executive branch to mitigate against future anticipated attacks on our election processes, voting systems in the 2018 elections because even the mere mention of this subject upsets our president. Despite the Dutch having shared with US Intelligence officials, photos of Russian hackers attacking US election-related systems, the republican President Donald J. Trump still persists in denying this reality.
Meanwhile, there have been computer experts demonstrating just how scary easy it is to hack state electronic voting machines within minutes.
“We the People” need to act by having our US lawmakers create legislation where steps can be taken to protect the integrity the vote. There is a bipartisan bill that would allow for states to assess their voting machines’ vulnerability and to take steps to prevent being hacked, S.2261.
COMPUTER HACKERS HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HACK SOME AMERICAN VOTING S. 2261: Secure Elections Act MACHINES IN ONLY SEVEN MINUTES.
A new bill could eliminate paperless voting machines, which experts say are the most vulnerable to hacking and tampering. It would also expand the use of post-election audits, which are rare and usually used in event of a recount.
About one out of four Americans currently vote on touchscreen voting machines which produce no paper trail, like a receipt.
This worries many, because such electronic systems are much more susceptible to hacking or other malpractice. And without a non-electronic confirmation that a person voted, any evidence of potential tampering could disappear — and do so without anyone even knowing until it was too late.
What the bill does
The Secure Elections Act has three major aims:
Get rid of all paperless voting machines. Although many states are already moving away from paperless, budget restrictions for cash-strapped states prevent many other states from following suit. So the bill provides federal grants to states to switch their voting systems in an amount to be determined by an independent panel of cybersecurity experts appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security. States applying for the money would have to submit a list of all paperless voting machines in their jurisdiction, and would only receive the amount of money necessary to replace them with versions that read paper ballots.
Incentivize states to perform post-election audits for most or even allelections. No longer would it primarily occur for extremely close results or recounts, as is currently the case.
Expand information sharing regarding voting systems. The Department of Homeland Security determined that 21 states had their election systems targeted by Russian hackers in 2016 — but it took almost a year for the department to notify those states.
The legislation was Introduced December 21 by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), and labelled S. 2261 in the Senate.
What supporters say
Supporters argue the bill would help protect one of the core American democratic ideals from dispute or damage.
“Safe and free elections run by individual states are at the core of our national identity,” Sen. Lankford said in a press release.”
“It is imperative that we strengthen our election systems and give the states the tools they need to protect themselves and the integrity of voters against the possibility of foreign interference,” Lankford continued. “In this new digital age, we should ensure the states have the resources they need to protect our election infrastructure.”
“The bill also stops short of what some see as the potential danger of a federal power grab on what has traditionally been a state-run issue.”
“It does not command states to act in specific ways, it does not hijack election administration from counties, states, or municipalities, and it limits the federal government’s role to advising and empowering state and local jurisdictions to run their proverbial railroads,” writes Lawfare.
Although supportive of the overall bill in general, Harvard Kennedy School Cyber Security Project Director Michael Sulmeyer writes of several potential issues.
For one, the bill puts nearly all of the onus for the federal government’s role on the Department of Homeland Security.
“DHS is not the only federal agency that handles threat intelligence: The intelligence community and the FBI need to be committed to this cause as well,” Sulmeyer says. “If they don’t share relevant information with DHS or are slow to do so, there’s little DHS or the states can do.”
Another issue is that many states which arguably should apply for the grants may still not.
“For all the bill offers to states and local jurisdictions, they still need to take the initiative to receive the shared information, to apply for grants, and to participate in bug bounties,” Sulmeyer writes.
Odds of passage
The bill has attracted a bipartisan mix of five cosponsors: three Democrats and two Republicans.
They span the gamut ideologically, from conservatives like Lankford, to moderates like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), to progressives like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
However, some other similar election-related measures introduced this Congress haven’t attracted the level of urgency that advocates hoped for. This is likely at least in part because President Trump has refused to accept the 2016 Russian election as having occurred.
This bill in languishing away somewhere in the US Senate.
Note: This is an update of an earlier post in 2/4/2018.