Lankford Outlines Steps Taken to Enhance Security Ahead of 2020 Election
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has consistently worked since the 2016 election to ensure safe and secure future elections for Oklahomans and Americans. Most notably, following the 2016 presidential election, as a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Lankford introduced bipartisan legislation entitled the Secure Elections Act, which included targeted funding for states to secure and update their own election systems.
“Two weeks out from the 2020 election, Oklahomans and Americans should be confident in a secure US election, free of foreign interference,” said Lankford. “I have worked over the last four years to ensure states have resources from the federal government to strengthen vulnerabilities in their systems. This includes additional funding for states to upgrade their voting systems. The Administration has also taken steps to facilitate information sharing among federal, state and local partners; strengthen cybersecurity; ensure foreign bad-actors aren’t sowing discord by spreading false information, and provide for the auditability of our elections in order to verify the votes cast and instill confidence in the results. There have been significant and meaningful changes to our election system since 2016 to make it more reliable and secure.”
Specifically, Lankford has pushed for four areas since 2016, which have all be implemented by President Trump and his administration to:
- Encourage information sharing between the federal government and states and local election partners. Each state also has an additional layer of federal cyber protection over their critical election systems to monitor for possible interference.
- Enhance security, $1.2 billion has been allocated for states to upgrade election their systems and enhance cybersecurity.
- Identify and expose foreign actors that are sowing false election information on American social media platforms
- Ensure states have the ability to conduct a post-election audit of election results with a paper record. Every state but one is now capable of post-election audits.
Actions by Lankford to address cybersecurity:
- In September 2020, Lankford asked for an update from national security officials on election security threats.
- In September 2019, Lankford supported legislation for the FY 2020 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Financial Services and General Government funding bill in the Senate Appropriations Committee that would streamline cybersecurity information-sharing between federal intelligence entities and state election agencies, expedite security clearances to state election officials, and ensure states can audit their elections.
- Lankford joined a bipartisan group of Senators to introduce the Voting System Cybersecurity Act of 2019, which would ensure that a cybersecurity expert from the Department of Homeland Security is involved in crafting the voluntary voting system guidelines established by the Election Assistance Commission voting system that manufacturers use when creating their products.
- Lankford participated in a Homeland Security Committee hearing to question top executives from Twitter and Facebook on practices for identifying suspended accounts and coordinating with law enforcement to ensure they are tracking unauthorized users, especially accounts connected with foreign users. During the hearing, Lankford pushed the executives on how they are working to prevent and track foreign bad actors from purchasing user’s data.
- In September 2018, President Trump’s administration issued an Executive Order in response to foreign interference in US elections, which Lankford supported.
- In March 2018, Lankford was joined by a bipartisan group of Senators with the support of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to introduce the Secure Elections Act to strengthen election cybersecurity in America. The bill was originally proposed in December 2017. Lankford testified in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee in August 2018 on the US response to cybersecurity threats. Lankford submitted the legislation as an amendment to the annual defense bill in 2018.
- Lankford secured $380 million for states to make election security improvements, implement cybersecurity guidelines, and replace outdated electronic voting machines, which was originally proposed in his Secure Elections Act.
- In December 2017, Lankford sent a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary to urge the Department to prioritize election cybersecurity.
- In June 2017 he participated in an open Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian Interference in the 2016 US elections.
- Lankford participated in numerous phone calls and face-to-face meetings with administration officials and state and local election officials for the past four years to work on election security and information sharing.
- Lankford recorded an Episode on The Breakdown with James Lankford podcast on election security and breaking down his legislation.
- In March 2018, Lanford joined the Senate Intelligence Committee to unveil recommendations to secure US election infrastructure.
- July 2018, Lankford gave a speech on the Senate floor on the importance of securing US elections.
- In September 2018, Lankford issued a statement to applaud the administration’s announcement of the National Cyber Strategy.
- In June 2019, Lankford gave an update on the Senate floor to discuss election security concerns in both the 2016 and 2018 US elections, work by state and federal government to identify and address vulnerabilities and continued concerns.
- During a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, Lankford prioritized his question to DHS chief intel officer to focus on election security.
- In a floor speech to address national spending and to ensure we use the resources provided appropriately, Lankford discussed the $380 million sent to states to help with election security after Russians tried to interfere in the 2016 elections. When the speech was given, states had only spent a little over $100 million of the money allocated. Today, nearly $130 million of that $380 million has been used by state’s to secure their elections.
- In February 2020, Lankford spoke on the Senate floor to give an update on election security ahead of the 2020 election.
- For general election information, or Oklahomans who want to vote by absentee ballot please visit https://www.ok.gov/elections/ for more information.