In the wake of the DNC server hack and well-documented efforts by states to suppress the vote, citizens are rightly concerned about the accuracy and access of our voting systems. We must work to reduce the vulnerability of our crucial voting systems, protect the security and integrity of our electoral process, and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to vote.
That's why on Sept. 21, I introduced the "Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016" (H.R. 6073) that requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designate our voting systems as critical infrastructure and the "Election Integrity Act of 2016" (H.R. 6072), which will limit the purchase of any new voting systems that do not provide durable voter-verified paper ballots.
When DHS labels an asset as critical infrastructure, it heightens its security obligations and requires DHS to provide increased support - be it the power grid, water supply, or electoral infrastructure.
The "Election Infrastructure and Security Promotion Act of 2016" would:
• Designates voting systems as critical infrastructure under the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act;
• Requires DHS to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan on protecting critical electoral process from a variety of threats, including cyber terrorism;
• Calls on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop operational security standards to be used in federal elections and transparency standards so that voters may verify their votes;
• Authorizes the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to establish an election technology innovation program to support and promote research into improving our voting process.
The "Election Integrity Act" would:
• Limit the purchase of any new voting systems that do not provide durable voter-verified paper ballots;
• Establishes protocols when there is a voting system failure, prohibits voting systems responsible for tabulating votes from being insecurely connected to the internet, and calls for security standards for voting systems used in federal elections;
• Requires durable and readable paper ballots and the publication of poll tapes;
• Enables verifiable manual audits of federal elections and will allow for random hand counts of paper ballots. The results of these audits will be published;
• Establish guidelines for the publication of voter purge lists and a process by which individuals can challenge their placement on a purge list;
• Requires a mandatory response by the Attorney General for allegations of voter suppression and intimidation.
We have seen what is happening in places such as Hancock County, Georgia, where law enforcement and local election officials have engaged in Jim Crow-style voter intimidation in an effort to suppress minority voters; where purge lists have been found to target minorities; and where the Secretary of State's office has compromised private voter information, it is time for Congress to step up and protect the right to vote in federal elections.
I proud to to say Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17) is an original cosponsor of both bills.
At a news conference we held on Capitol Hill, Rep. Honda said: "Our nation's elections laws are decades old, leaving us unprepared to meet the threats of the 21st century. We cannot afford to be reactive; we must invest now in clear, tough, and verifiable ways to protect everyone's vote."
The Security Act is supported by Open Source Election Technology (OSET) Foundation, People Demanding Action and Progressive Democrats of America and Verified Voting. The Integrity Act is supported by: National Election Defense Coalition, Common Cause, Transformative Justice Coalition, Hip Hop Caucus, People Demanding Action, UHCAN, Progressive Democrats of America and Verified Voting.
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Mike Honda (CA-17), David Scott (GA-13) and Sanford Bishop (GA-02) are sponsors of the Security Act, and Reps. Conyers, David Cicilline (RI-01), Honda, David Scott, Sanford Bishop (GA-02) and Jose Serrano (NY-15) are sponsors of the Integrity Act.