GOP senators nix vote on Election Security Act, similar bills wend their way through Congress


Republicans in the Senate rebuffed an attempt by presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, to bring the Election Security Act to a vote Tuesday.

"We know there's a continued threat against our democracy. What we need to do now is address these facts with a common purpose, to protect our democracy, to make sure that our election systems are resilient against future attacks," said Klobuchar when calling for a vote on the act, which would require voting systems to have paper ballots and give states grants for election election security.

"There is a presidential election before us and if a few counties in one swing state or an entire state get hacked into there's no backup paper ballots and we can't figure out what happened, the entire election will be called into question," she said.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who has worked with the Minnesota senator on bipartisan election security legislation, thwarted her efforts, noting their past collaboration and saying, “I think we still can resolve this and we can actually get a result, but a partisan proposal will not get us an end results where both parties come together and get to resolve this."

On Tuesday, Klobuchar and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., introduced the Preventing Adversaries Internationally from Disbursing Advertising Dollars (PAID AD) Act to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), citing Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.

Calling the bill “just one commonsense measure we should adopt to strengthen our democracy against foreign intervention,” Warner contended in a statement, “Russia’s massive and unprecedented interference in our last presidential election revealed a number of vulnerabilities in our election system.”

He said “now that the Kremlin’s playbook is out in the open, we can expect more of the same in 2020, from Russia or elsewhere.”

Russia’s meddling has prompted a flurry of congressional legislative initiatives, particularly as the U.S. draws close to the 2020 presidential election. Last week, the House Administration Committee got behind the Securing America’s Federal Elections (SAFE) Act of 2019, which would require paper ballots and give states grants to update their voting equipment. “While we have made modest progress to bolster our defenses, it’s clear from the analysis of our intelligence community and a host of independent experts from across the political spectrum that more must be done,” Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

And Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., ranking member of the House Administration Committee, introduced the Election Security Assistance Act, that would give states grants for equipment upgrades, provide election officials with top secret security clearance so they can share information and increases the resources at their disposal, including the creation of an Election Cyber Assistance Unit.

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