07.11.18

Senator Lankford Urges Senate Rules Committee to Pass Secure Elections Act

Lankford: “What will the elections be like 20 years from now? Will we still have a process in place to protect our elections when our guard is down?”

CLICK HERE to view Lankford’s remarks. 

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today testified before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration as the Committee examines the issue of election security and considers the bipartisan bill Secure Elections Act, which strengthens election cybersecurity in America. Lankford originally introduced the bill in December 2017; after working with stakeholders, he introduced a revised version of the bill in March 2018. The purpose of the bill is to streamline cybersecurity information-sharing between federal intelligence entities and state election agencies; provide security clearances to state election officials; and provide support for state election cybersecurity infrastructure. 

Excerpts: 

(0:00-0:48) This has been a work in process that was written in pencil so it could be able to be erased, edited, rewritten, re-erased, re-edited over-and-over again as we’ve gone through multiple reiterations of the Secure Elections Act. We do need to deal with the obvious threats that are coming at our nation dealing with elections. We should have learned a lesson from 2016. Though this will take a long time to be able to roll out real results and responses over the course of our nation, we do need to deal with these threats.

(0:49-1:50) Secure Election Act tries to be able to focus on improving the ability of states to be able to counter issues and threats that they face in the elections. Let me reiterate this, I have absolutely zero doubt that the Russians tried to influence our elections. That they were trying to engage in any way that they could to bring instability to our democracy. But I also have no question that our states are not only qualified to be able to handle the elections but they are Constitutionally responsible to be able to handle our elections. The states need to be able to continue to control our elections. Senator Klobuchar and others, we have worked on together, is trying to be able to form is how do we head off this issue from coming at us again. It’s not so much about the next election, because quite frankly there’s a lot of attention being paid to the next election, it is what is the election structure 20-years from now? When will we let our guard down? Will the focus not be there? To be able to put some process in place to say, ‘how do we make sure 20-years from now we have not forgotten the lessons we should have learned from 2016.

(3:02-4:14) …Senator Klobuchar and I have worked very hard and have refined the Secure Elections Act. We have had a tremendous amount of feedback, as Senator Klobuchar has mentioned before, from Secretaries of States and heads of election officials from the EAC and the DHS. We met with a bipartisan of State Secretaries in April including the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Secretary Ashcroft from Missouri, Secretary Schedler from Louisiana, and Secretary Simon from Minnesota when we incorporated their advice. We have exceptional feedback, quite frankly, from the chief election official in my state, Paul Ziriax as well as former Election Assistance Commissioner Matt Masterson. We have also talked extensively with Secretary Nielsen from DHS and received a tremendous amount of feedback as well with what DHS is doing. We do want to be able to see improvements, and we do believe that the coordinating councils can share a lot of that information with other states and with the federal government. …there are some simple things that can be in place that we feel like do not usurp the authority of the states to be able to run their own elections but do give us a secure election system for the future.

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