Support for S. 2593, the Secure Elections Act of 2018, is growing in the Senate as four more legislators signed on as cosponsors late last week.

The bill, initially introduced in March by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., would streamline cybersecurity information-sharing between Federal intelligence agencies and state election agencies and protect against threats posed by foreign adversaries. Among other measures, the legislation seeks to provide security clearances to state election officials and provide support for state election cybersecurity infrastructure

“Election security is national security. Our intelligence community has confirmed time and time again that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that they are working to do it again. Congress must take action to prevent this kind of foreign interference in our electoral process,” Klobuchar said.

As the 2018 midterm elections near, the list of cosponsors grew last week with the addition of Sens. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Angus King, I-Maine. The bipartisan list of cosponsors also includes Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Mark Warner, D-Va.

“Concerningly, backend election systems–including voter registration databases, ballot creation systems, voting machine configuration systems, absentee processing and reporting and tabulation software–are increasingly vulnerable and have been compromised by both private and state actors,” Moran said. “The Secure Elections Act helps better safeguard our systems while reaffirming the leadership role states play in administering Federal elections, and I urge my colleagues to support this critical legislation to protect future elections.”

As part of improving cybersecurity information-sharing, the legislation calls for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to establish an advisory panel of independent experts on election cybersecurity. The panel will include nine members, appointed by the leadership of EAC and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Members cannot be officers or employees of the United States government and must possess expertise in election law, election administration, or cybersecurity. The legislation also calls for increased reports to Congress, as well as increased funding for state election system cybersecurity modernization grants.

The legislation is before the Senate Rules Committee awaiting a vote.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.