elections

The same President who once formed a commission on “Election Integrity” has requested the Senate block the Secure Elections Act, according to reports.

The Secure Elections Act, introduced by Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) had a wide array of support from both parties, including Kamala Harris (D-California) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). The bill was expected to come out of markup Wednesday and be voted on in October.

Until it wasn’t.

In a statement to Yahoo News, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters said the Trump administration appreciated Congress’ interest in election security, but opposed the bill.

“[The Department of Homeland Security] has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure,” she said.

The Secure Elections Act would have put in place a technical advisory board to establish cybersecurity best practices, would have given state election officials security clearance to be briefed on threats to elections from foreign powers and would have formalized information-sharing between state and federal officials, including Homeland Security officials.

Senator Amy Kolbuchar (D-Minnesota) praised Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) who chaired the Senate Rules Committee where the bill ultimately died, as well as Lankford for introducing the bill.

“They tried valiantly to salvage the votes for this bill on the Republican side,” she said. “In the end we had every single Democrat on the committee committed to vote for the bill. Any changes that were recently made to the bill were made to accommodate the Republican leadership.”

The Trump administration did not specify what problems in particular it had with the Secure Elections Act, instead citing a general opposition to “legislation with inappropriate mandates or that moves power or funding from the states to Washington.”

Some cybersecurity experts argue that Russia has already done irreparable damage to the 2018 midterm elections, and Trump’s own national security adviser, John Bolton, warned that China, Iran and North Korea may interfere with the midterm elections as well.

As it stands, one of the few government programs dedicated to election security, the Election Assistance Commission, has continued to function despite Republican efforts to eliminate it.

The Election Assistance Commission may remain the only line of defense against foreign intervention in American elections in November, thanks in no small part to the Trump administration.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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