At Judiciary Committee, Klobuchar Highlights Need to Combat Interference in our Elections
Today at the Senate Judiciary Committee, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), highlighted the need to combat interference in our elections. Klobuchar pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray on the steps necessary to counter election interference ahead of the 2020 elections.
KLOBUCHAR: I look at how we solve things, and one of the ways I think it would be helpful to solve this is if there was an intrusion in our election. I heard you talk about how there's two different ways to look at this. One is the physical hacking. And one is the propaganda. And so one of the things that would be helpful is to have backup paper ballots and audits in case that hacking occurs. Do you think that would be helpful for our democracy?
WRAY: Well, as you know, Senator, I think the responsibility for election infrastructure, things like paper ballots, is more in the lane of DHS and its interaction with state and local officials in the election space. My limited understanding in that space is paper ballots would be a good thing and seems redundancy would be in everybody's interest in this -- such an important space for the country.
KLOBUCHAR: On propaganda issues and particularly purchased ads, as you know last time Russia purchased ads with rubles, do you think it would be helpful to know what those ads are in this next upcoming election, whether they are paid for by Russia or China or by any outside group to know what they are and who paid for them?
WRAY: Well, we certainly are trying to take a number of steps to raise awareness and working with private sector entities which provide platforms for different forms of foreign influence messaging whether it's propaganda, fake news or something else.
KLOBUCHAR: Wouldn't it just be helpful to know the facts?
WRAY: I tend to believe that more information is better than less. And I tend to believe that the American public will be better hardened against this threat with greater media literacy and resilience.
For video of Klobuchar's remarks at the hearing click 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.
In May, 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.