“I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments — that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election,” Mueller said Wednesday at the Justice Department, his first public remarks since taking over the nearly two-year investigation. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Yet, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been divided for most of the past year on how to address the weaknesses in the U.S. election system that were exploited by Russia in 2016 and again in 2018, even as other countries attempt to copy Moscow’s playbook.
For the most part, lawmakers in both parties agree that America’s voting machines and their support systems, including voter registration and vote-tallying computers, are outdated and lacking in basic security measures. But they are divided over how to fix the problem.
While Democrats have been pushing for as much as a $1 billion infusion of federal grants — in addition to the $380 million Congress appropriated in fiscal 2018 — to states to upgrade voting machines and train officials in cybersecurity measures, Republicans have balked at the proposal.
When Democrats regained the House in January, they passed HR 1, a broad political overhaul bill that contained several election security provisions, including requirements that all states have paper ballots and grants to do so.
Facing Republican opposition in the Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring up the bill in its entirety, Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has proposed a standalone election security bill that would mandate paper ballots, require U.S. intelligence agencies to assess threats to elections, and ask that states test their systems nine months before an election.
Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, the top Democrat on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee and a 2020 presidential contender, has proposed matching legislation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday renewed a call for the Senate to take up HR 1 to “protect our elections and secure our democracy.”
Virginia’s Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Congress should address several aspects of strengthening U.S. democracy “by passing legislation that enhances election security, increases social media transparency, and requires campaign officials to report any contact with foreign nationals attempting to coordinate with a campaign.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted her frustration Wednesday at the lack of progress in the Senate.
“Robert Mueller just made it crystal clear: Russia interfered in our elections in 2016 in a ‘systematic’ way. So why won’t [McConnell] let us vote on any election security bills to prevent foreign adversaries from doing it again?!” the Illinois Democrat wrote.
Let your MoC know you expect them to protect our elections.