With Election Security Funding Missing from Appropriations Bill, Ranking Member Quigley Introduces Amendment to Provide $380 Million for Election Infrastructure Improvements
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) and as Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services & General Government (FSGG), introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2019 FSGG bill that would appropriate an additional $380 million in grants to continue to improve the cybersecurity defenses of our election infrastructure.
Rep. Quigley was instrumental in securing $380 million in new grants in the FY18 omnibus spending bill to help states fortify and protect election systems from cyber-hacking. Rep. Quigley’s amendment aims to provide the same level of funding in the FY19 appropriations bill.
Below are his full remarks, as prepared for delivery.
Mister Chairman, I have an amendment related to Election Assistance Commission grants.
As I stated in my opening remarks, Congress took an important and necessary step when it appropriated $380 million in new grants to help States fortify and protect election systems from cyber-hacking.
For the last two years, I’ve been sounding the alarm that our election infrastructure is outdated, low-tech, and nowhere near where it needs to be to prevent future intrusions.
We learned that in the lead up to the 2016 elections, Russia targeted the election systems of at least 21 States and as many as 39.
In my home state of Illinois, we know that Russian hackers gained access to the state’s voter database.
This database contains sensitive information such as names, dates of birth, driver’s licenses, and partial social security numbers for 15 million people. Fortunately, the hackers failed to alter or delete any of the compromised information.
And while there’s still no evidence that Russia tampered with the vote counting process, that doesn’t mean they won’t try in 2020 or even in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Yet, many of the vulnerabilities that existed in 2016, continue to persist across the country.
An estimated 42 states continue to use outdated voting machines susceptible to cyber-intrusions and system crashes. Many of these voting machines, which can be more than a decade old, are not equipped to handle modern-day cybersecurity software.
In fact, at one of the world’s best known hacker conferences last year, participants were tasked with hacking into 25 different pieces of equipment, including voting machines. By the end of the conference, every piece of equipment was effectively breached in some manner by mostly novice hackers.
The participants were shocked at how quickly machines fell—in a matter of minutes and hours—and noted that all nation states like Russia would have weeks to target election systems.
To make matters worse, thirteen states continue to use voting machines that fail to produce a paper ballot or record.
This means that around 20 percent of registered voter cast ballots without leaving any voter-verified paper trail. Without these paper records, the ability to conduct robust, meaningful postelection audits is unlikely.
While some states received sufficient funds to replace all of their outdated voting machines, others only have enough for partial replacement.
Among the 13 states that still utilize machines with no paper trails, New Jersey, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Indiana, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Georgia will only have enough to cover, at most, half of the estimated replacement costs. Now is not the time to let up.
That is why my amendment would appropriate an additional $380 million in grants to continue to improve the cybersecurity defenses of our election infrastructure.
Russia’s work is not done with us, and neither should our efforts to counter their actions. We know that the Russians do not have to hack into every polling place or voting booth to cast doubt, uncertainty, and suspicion over the integrity of our electoral process.
With foreign governments attempting to disrupt and influence our democratic process, now is the time to double down on our efforts to prevent all forms of election hacking.
The American people are watching, and we must ensure we are on the right side of history during this pivotal moment in our democracy.
I urge my colleagues on both sides to put aside partisan politics and support this amendment.