Senators introduce election cybersecurity bill to improve information sharing

Senator Collins / Joy Holder, U.S. Senate Photographic Studio

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Two U.S. senators are introducing a bill that aims to increase states’ preparedness for cyber interference in federal elections amid concerns about foreign meddling in the 2016 election, Reuters reported.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., announced the Securing America’s Voting Equipment (SAVE) Act on Tuesday, which would authorize the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to issue security clearances to state officials in charge of running federal elections. The clearance would allow the DNI to share classified intelligence about election threats with those officials.

The legislation would also authorize a grant program to let states upgrade their election technology.

While the Department of Homeland Security designated election systems as “critical infrastructure” in January, this bill would reiterate that designation as legislation.

The DHS last month notified 21 states that their election systems were scanned by Russian hackers looking for vulnerabilities. However some of those states challenged that notion and said their systems were never scanned or compromised.

Collins and Heinrich are on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“While the Intelligence Committee’s investigation is still ongoing, one thing is clear: the Russians were very active in trying to influence the 2016 election and will continue their efforts to undermine public confidence in democracies,” Collins said in a joint statement.

“Our democracy hinges on protecting Americans’ ability to fairly choose our own leaders. We must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of our elections,” Heinrich said.

The SAVE Act also proposes a “Cooperative Hack the Election” program to invite vendors and researchers to find threats and vulnerabilities in election technology, similar to the Voting Village that DEF CON conducted in July.

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2016 elections, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), elections, election systems, Martin Heinrich, Russia, SAVE Act, Susan Collins, voting systems
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