In Wake of Russian Hacking, Quigley Co-sponsors Bipartisan PAPER Act to Strengthen Cybersecurity Defenses of State Elections
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, co-sponsored the bipartisan Protecting the American Process for Election Results (PAPER) Act, introduced by Reps. Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Mark Meadows (R-NC). The bill, H.R. 3751, provides assistance to states allowing them to strengthen the cybersecurity defenses of their election systems.
“Today marks one year since the 2016 presidential election, and in the past 365 days, we’ve had to face hard truths about vulnerabilities in our electoral process and the increasing threat posed by foreign entities wishing to weaken our institutions. In order to prevent future attacks against our democracy and preserve the American promise of having one’s voice heard at the ballot box, we must harden our defenses,” said. Rep. Quigley. “The PAPER Act is an important step forward in guaranteeing that our elections are safeguarded against any form of interference. The standards this bill creates to address concerns over the susceptibility of voter logs and the implementation of effective post-election audits will help assure the public that American elections are free and fair. Through continued collaboration between cybersecurity experts and government agencies at all levels, we can upgrade election systems to stand strong against 21st century cyber threats. With growing concern over aging voting machines and state and local officials struggling to find solutions, it’s our duty to put partisan politics aside and work together to tackle a problem that, if not taken seriously, threatens the very core of our nation.”
The Intelligence Community’s January 2017 report on Russian activities in the 2016 election confirmed that Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. The Illinois Board of Elections publicly acknowledged the hack in August of last year.
The PAPER Act is designed to protect the integrity of American elections by solidifying defenses against cyber intrusions and by recommending additional record keeping to strengthen audits of elections. The bill directs the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), after consulting with state and federal stakeholders, to formulate Security Risk and Vulnerability Assessment recommendations for states to harden their cybersecurity and develop post-election auditing standards to ensure elections have not been manipulated. States that adhere to such guidelines will be eligible to receive federal Election Technology Improvement Grants—funding that allows for needed system and security updates.
The bill also requires voting machines purchased with federal funds to pair votes cast electronically with a paper record, visible to the voter—and recommends that each federal election be followed by a manual audit of a random sample of such paper records, prior to certification of the election result. Additionally, the bill orders a comprehensive study of best practices for protecting the integrity of federal elections and for storing and securing voter registration data. In consultation with election experts and government agencies at all levels, the EAC will report recommendations and guidelines for states to implement. As communication between stakeholders is vital to defending against attacks, the PAPER Act would also improve how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Director of National Intelligence alert state election officials regarding cyber threats.
As Ranking Member of the Financial Services & General Government Appropriations Subcommittee, Rep. Quigley introduced an appropriations amendment to preserve and fund the EAC in June. As state and local election officials face unique challenges that require access to federal guidance and support, the EAC provides assistance necessary to defend against security threats. Rep. Quigley argued that eliminating the EAC would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve election systems and provide states with the help they need to hold accurate and secure elections.
As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Quigley is working to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Rep. Quigley was encouraged by DHS’s decision to designate election systems as critical infrastructure, but has been adamant that Congress must take action to ensure state and local election officials receive the assistance they need.