Senator Lankford Touts The Revised Secure Elections Act
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today spoke on the Senate Floor to tout his revised Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan bill that aims to strengthen election infrastructure and cybersecurity in America. With today’s reintroduction, Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) also co-sponsored the bill.
(:09-:45) As many of you know the Department of Homeland Security has been actively engaged in trying to fix what they can on election security leading up to the 2018 election time period. I have absolutely zero doubt that the Russians tried to meddle in our elections in 2016. They started in 2014 trying to strategically plan for how they were going to try to interfere in our election both with social media, false news, as many different ways as they can to get out misinformation. They started the process early. They planned and executed well, quite frankly, but they exposed a weakness in our system.
(2:08-2:54) We have multiple states. There’s not many. There’s around 10 to 12 states that they cannot audit their elections when the election day comes and goes. That means they are completely counting on the machine to keep an accurate count. That machine is not attached to the internet. In fact, there is no state that has their election equipment attached to the internet on the day of the vote, but most every one of them does a software update before election time. If any entity were able to get into any one of the third-party software companies before the update is done and just puts a bit of software code that messes with the machine, you would not know if that election result was reliable or not.
(3:08-4:00) Last time they were looking, next time they come in and possibly change it. We should be well prepared for that. We have a piece of legislation. It’s a very straightforward piece about secure elections. Myself, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Lindsey Graham, Susan Collins, multiple of us that have all engaged to say, how do we stabilize our election system? Elections are run by states and should be run by states. There’s no reason for us to federalize elections, but the federal government should walk alongside states and to say simple things, we’re going to have quick communication between the states and federal government, so if a foreign entity is trying to reach in your state to mess with your system, we can quickly let you know about it and help you in the process of protecting your state.
(4:48-5:18) We want to make sure that there is not only streamlined communication, that there is not only good auditable equipment but that we actually give classifications to individuals so they can deal with classified information. That didn’t happen last time and so, again, it was months before there was contact back-and-forth because the federal government wanted to notify the state of what was happening, but no one had the clearance to get the information. Let’s fix that. DHS is in the process of fixing that. We would like to put in legislation that remains so, so in the future, we don’t lull ourselves to sleep again.
(5:19-5:40) Because last time it was the Russians. Next time it could be the North Koreans. Next time it could be the Iranians. Next time it could be a domestic hacktivist group that is just mad at somebody for something and they learned the vulnerabilities that the Russians pointed out. In the days ahead we need to secure our system for the election. It’s not a partisan issue. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue.