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Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 21, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 1321, the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act.

This bill will protect our Nation's most sacred democratic process by making it a Federal crime to hack any voting system used in a Federal election.

Protecting our Nation's election process from bad actors must be a top priority of Congress.

In 2018, the Department of Justice's Cyber-Digital Task Force issued a report finding that election systems were not adequately protected by Federal law. This bill is a bipartisan response to address the problems identified by the task force.

Bad actors who attempt to interfere in our elections must be punished for their actions. As someone who spends a lot of time here talking about where crimes fit in the State and Federal place, and oftentimes I think we overreact as a Federal Government and interfere in things that I believe should be left to the States, I think this is the opposite of that. An election in North Dakota can have consequences across the country. An election in Texas can have consequences across the country.

This is written in a way that it deals with Federal elections and any machines used in those. It is a good piece of legislation. It is a bipartisan piece of legislation. It is based off of task force findings. It is narrow, and it does what we need it to do.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Ms. JACKSON LEE.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from the Judiciary Committee and on the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Subcommittee for his leadership, and I thank the sponsors for their leadership. I thank our chairman and ranking member for the bipartisanship of this legislation.

Again, Mr. Speaker, let me remind my colleagues how important this change is. It doesn't speak to mistakes or innocent mistakes, but what it does is it makes sure that a computer that is offline is subject to the laws of hacking that may occur when a computer is online or active.

We know how creative those who want to undermine and distract from a fair, just election are. They may not just have an inclination to hack an active computer. So under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, this is to include computers, even if they are offline, that are part of a voting system used in a Federal election.

Again, we understand how many people are engaged in making sure we have a secure and just election, and we know that this legislation focuses on the bad actors, and that is what we want to do.

The integrity, Mr. Speaker, of the upcoming elections is essential to the foundation of our democracy. The right to vote is the most fundamental right of citizenship in our democracy, and this issue touches every voter in every community across America.

We know that people are now voting as we stand here on the floor of the House. We know that mail balloting will continue or start in many jurisdictions. Some have already started. We know many States are engaged in early voting, where millions of people will be voting. This is an important initiative that needs to be signed immediately into law.

We need to do all that we can to address current threats and to ensure public confidence in our elections. This legislation will help advance that goal. That is why I ask all of my colleagues to join me in supporting passage of S. 1321 today.

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