05/22/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/22/2019 18:36
(U.S. Senate) - With foreign interference in U.S. elections at an all-time high, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is backing legislation to help states protect voting systems and bolster election security.
Following the 2016 election, national security agencies sounded the alarm about foreign entities influencing U.S. elections and their potential to damage American democracy. Tester is backing the Election Security Act to provide states, including Montana, with resources they need to beef up cybersecurity and ensure their elections are free from foreign meddling.
'Foreign interests are deliberately targeting American elections and threatening the beating heart of our democracy,' Tester said. 'To defend the Montana way of life and preserve one of the pillars of our republic, we need to act now to ensure that our elections remain free of outside influence.'
The Election Security Act funds grants for states to improve the security of their election systems, provide cybersecurity training to election officials, and to test their systems before and after election day. It also requires states to use paper ballots in federal elections and establishes cybersecurity standards for voting system vendors.
Under the Election Security Act, the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security would work with states to run threat assessments and improve election security. The bill also requires that voting systems be tested nine months before an election and that states make reasonable efforts to buy voting machines manufactured in the United States. It would also create a bipartisan commission to counter election interference.
This month, Tester slammed the Trump Administration for proposing to spend $5 billion to build 200 miles of walls at the southern border while snubbing funding for cybersecurity and election security. Earlier this year, he helped negotiate a funding deal that provided over $1 billion to cybersecurity operations and readiness. He also recently called on the U.S. Senate to investigate Russian cyberattacks on American elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to vote on virtually all bills that would strengthen U.S. election security. Tester is urging Republican leadership to stand up for American democracy and vote on the Election Security Act.