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house Bill H.R. 4990

Should Federal Agencies Fund Research About the Security & Integrity of Voting Systems?

Argument in favor

There is broad consensus among lawmakers, election administrators, and researchers that the U.S. election system is vulnerable to hacking, manipulation and interference from malicious actors. As election systems become increasingly reliant on electronic, rather than paper, systems, addressing their cyber vulnerabilities is paramount to ensuring elections’ integrity. By giving the NIST and NSF funding resources to support their own and grant-funded researchers’ work on election security, this bill takes an important first step towards addressing U.S. election security.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/16/2020
I think that these studies can help election security, but that this is just the tip of the iceberg. NIST and NSF can make contributions in studying the issues and making public recommendations and that is valuable. The real solutions, however, will have to come from the NSA and our military cyber commands and these solutions cannot be made public. Our cyber-warriors have been monitoring Russian attacks on our networks for years and have been engaging in kind of a routine whack-a-mole shutting down of Russian attacks until the 2016 elections, when the Russians went all in-to attack our election officials, social media and voting infrastructure- they did not care if they were discovered and the attacks overwhelmed our cyber command’s ability to respond. Our cyber-warriors have begged for administration guidance backed up by diplomatic action so they could respond with retaliatory cyber attacks without risking escalation of a silent cyber-war to a shooting-war. They have yet to receive any such guidance. They did launch a minimal attack to shut down portions of the Russian power grid including the facilities that housed the 2016 Russian hackers without telling the trump until after they did so. Over the last few years the Russians have purchased large server farms within the United States that, by law, cannot be held in check by our military nor our NSA cyber operatives. The point is that our cyber-infrastructure, especially related to voting, is at increased risk from Russian interference with no overall strategy nor plan to thwart it - and the means to control these attacks are greatly limited by the trump’s disinterest in trying to stop them. The Manchurian President needs to go.
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Argument opposed

By focusing on the federal government, this bill misidentifies the correct actors to engage in election security efforts. Since U.S. states, not the federal government, administer elections and manage election systems, it is states — not the federal government — that should be in charge of determining how to fund election security efforts. Similarly, as U.S. voting systems and technologies are produced by the private sector, it — not higher education institutions or nonprofit organizations, as this bill suggests — should be responsible for researching and combating cyber and other threats to election security.

Bob's Opinion
···
09/17/2020
How about, instead of questioning the integrity of voting systems, we question the morality of a system forces people to be subject to laws that actively harm them simply because they were outnumbered?
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What is House Bill H.R. 4990?

This bill would direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies to support research on voting systems.

Under this bill, the NIST would be required to: 

  • Collaborate with the NSF to carry out research related to the security and integrity of voting systems; 
  • Make an award to a higher education institution or nonprofit organization to establish a Center of Excellence in Election Systems; 
  • Establish and make available common data format specifications for auditing, voter registration, and other elements of voting systems.

In addition to collaborating with the NIST on voting systems research, the NSF would be required to:

  • Collaborate with other agencies to award basic research grants for understanding cyber and other threats to voting systems and to inform the development of technologies, processes, and policies ensuring more secure, fair and accessible elections; and
  • Award grants to higher education institutions or nonprofit organizations to establish at least one multidisciplinary center for elections system research and education.

To understand the effectiveness of these efforts, the General Accountability Office (GAO) would be required to report on the extent to which NIST’s efforts to assist in the development of voluntary voting systems guidelines result in market-ready standardized voting equipment and software, among other measures.

This bill would also update the definition of “voting system” under US code — which currently refers only to voting machine, voting machine software, and the maintenance of voting machines and software — to include new technologies used in electronic election systems:

  • Any technology or process for “collecting, storing, or transmitting” voter data for federal elections;
  • Voter registry databases and online interfaces;
  • Vote auditing systems; and
  • “Chain-of-custody” of data throughout voting systems.

Impact

Voting systems; states; elections; higher education institutions; nonprofit organizations conducting voting systems research; National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); National Science Foundation (NSF); and the General Accountability Office (GAO).

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4990

$108.00 Million
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that this bill would cost $108 million to implement over the 2020-2025 period.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) introduced this bill to give the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) new resources to conduct research to promote the security and modernization of U.S. voting systems:

“There are few things more central to American democracy than the safety and security of our elections, where citizens from all walks of life can cast their vote and know it will be counted. The election security hearing I held [in summer 2019] underscored the urgent need for federal research and resources to combat the growing threats against the technologies that have become essential to our elections. I’m introducing this bill with my colleagues to help states arm themselves with strategies to prevent interference and the resources and support to ensure voting systems are reliable and secure.”

After this bill’s committee passage, Rep. Sherrill added:

“Election security is a bipartisan concern, and our committee is working together to address vulnerabilities with our voting systems. Our democracy only works if all eligible citizens can participate in elections and be confident that their ballots have been accurately cast and counted. The Election Technology Research Act of 2019 will help to ensure that the technical underpinnings of our election architecture are solid.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) adds:

“With new threats facing our electoral system, it is absolutely imperative that we continue to modernize and improve our election security. Ohio has long been a leader when it comes to election practices, and this bill will update federal laws to reflect today’s technology and encourage innovation on the state and local level to secure our election systems.”

Last year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) resisted several Democrat-led legislative attempts to pass election reform and security legislation. Explaining his position, he contended that these efforts were partisan, and that they lacked Republican support.

This legislation passed the Committee on Science, Space and Technology by unanimous voice vote and was discharged by the Committee on House Administration. It has the support of 12 bipartisan cosponsors, including nine Democrats and three Republicans.


Of NoteTechnology plays a significant role in today’s election process. In 37 states and the District of Columbia, online voter registration is allowed and a transition from paper to electronic poll books has been underway for several years.

Despite technology’s increasing role in elections, current law does not allow the NIST — which has long carrier out research on cybersecurity, privacy, and other topics relevant to voting systems and elections technology — to make recommendations to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) with respect to the security of online voter registration systems or databases, e-poll books, or numerous other systems used before and after the casting of a vote.

Concerns around the security of voting infrastructure have been an increasing topic of interest in Congress since 2016, when Russian intelligence officers were able to hack into an Illinois State Board of Elections database that included millions of voters’ registration information. According to former special counsel Robert Mueller, Russian election interference also included accessing at least one Florida county’s network via spear-fishing emails sent to more than 120 accounts used by Florida election officials.

Some election security proposals center on the importance of encouraging state and private sector collaboration on this issue, rather than federal government efforts. Because state collaboration on technology plays a significant role in addressing domestic threats to elections and the private sector plays a significant role in addressing both domestic and international threats, there is a case to be made that states and the private sector, rather than the federal government, should be the primary parties involved in election security efforts.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: Unsplash / Elliott Stallion)

AKA

Election Technology Research Act of 2020

Official Title

To direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation to carry out research and other activities to promote the security and modernization of voting systems, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedNovember 8th, 2019
    I think that these studies can help election security, but that this is just the tip of the iceberg. NIST and NSF can make contributions in studying the issues and making public recommendations and that is valuable. The real solutions, however, will have to come from the NSA and our military cyber commands and these solutions cannot be made public. Our cyber-warriors have been monitoring Russian attacks on our networks for years and have been engaging in kind of a routine whack-a-mole shutting down of Russian attacks until the 2016 elections, when the Russians went all in-to attack our election officials, social media and voting infrastructure- they did not care if they were discovered and the attacks overwhelmed our cyber command’s ability to respond. Our cyber-warriors have begged for administration guidance backed up by diplomatic action so they could respond with retaliatory cyber attacks without risking escalation of a silent cyber-war to a shooting-war. They have yet to receive any such guidance. They did launch a minimal attack to shut down portions of the Russian power grid including the facilities that housed the 2016 Russian hackers without telling the trump until after they did so. Over the last few years the Russians have purchased large server farms within the United States that, by law, cannot be held in check by our military nor our NSA cyber operatives. The point is that our cyber-infrastructure, especially related to voting, is at increased risk from Russian interference with no overall strategy nor plan to thwart it - and the means to control these attacks are greatly limited by the trump’s disinterest in trying to stop them. The Manchurian President needs to go.
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    Yes & this should have happened four years ago.
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    Yes, there is a lot of propaganda and misinformation about the integrity and security of our voting systems. We should be regularly researching, analyzing, and monitoring voting processes and systems to reduce the confusion and ensure election integrity. There are still people complaining about "voter fraud" even though there is barely any evidence that it even exists in our country, and all citizens should be able to know that. This effort should be overseen by Congress, though, to prevent interference by the executive branch.
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    Its a good thing biden put together a committee for 'just in case Trump can't accept losing an election' when libtards keep going on about how they can't accept that Trump won in 2016. What will you do when Trump wins again in November? You're preemptively attacking polling places to start your cheating narrative all over again, refusing to accept the truth, that when you pick terrible candidates, you lose. No cheating necessary, When you do lose, remember you lost because your cult leaders are backing domestic terrorists, marxists, arsonists, looters, rioters, murderers, communists, drug runners, human traffickers, and show preference for nations that use child labor over American workers... the democratic party is the root of everything going wrong here, and people are noticing... this is why you will lose. Get ready for the tidy bowl coming, were about to blue flush this shitty toilet. The will of the people is coming... even if it takes a third term! Yes, nick-papagiorgio, or whatever your name is. You are lame.
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    Representatives, Please most strongly House Bill H.R. 4990 initially introduced by Rep. Mikie Sherrill. The bill directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), and other agencies to support research on voting systems. Please ensure in the legislation measure to ensure that neither the occupant of the executive branch not the justice department not any political appointee cannot interfere with the efforts of the research, the publication of the research and the dissemination of the research. We fully realize that it is essential for many reasons that the Senate majority will need to change and the current occupant of the White House will need to be replaced before this legislation can go forward. Its best to have it ready as other beneficial legislation already is.
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    We should always want our votes to be secure.
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    Absolutely I think a mail in ballot is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of in my life. Thank you democrats you’re such idiots in the country is catching on to you finally
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    Ugh. Voting bad. Science bad. Me want voter suppression. Me want gerrymandering. Ugh. Me want electoral college. Ugh. (My lame attempt to impersonate a republican.)
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    We are the United States of America and this is a perfect example of where and when there needs to be a federally lead national strategy. Going state by state leaves us open to vulnerabilities: ask any Army General and he will tell you it’s a coordinated effort from the top. Finally, our President needs to be held accountable for lies and inaccuracies when addressing the public on voting security- and it should be his party as that first line of defense holding him in check.
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    Voting rights must be protected and expanded.
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    Voter security should be studied and improve to keep out Russia, Saudi Arabia and others from interfering and suppressing the American right to vote.
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    Yes there are so many antiquated state systems that are easily hacked by foreign operatives that this bill is necessary. I would also like to see bipartisan support for doing away with voter suppression.
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    But of course the #GOP will not allow this to get through the Senate.
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    The Integrity of Our Elections should always be protected Especially in these times when “Hacking” among other dubious things seem second hand instead of Down Right Illegal.
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    How about, instead of questioning the integrity of voting systems, we question the morality of a system forces people to be subject to laws that actively harm them simply because they were outnumbered?
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    Electronic or computerized voting is easily tampered with. Representative and former Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is exactly right. The US MUST return to paper ballots and supervised vote counts, and these procedures should be standardized throughout all states.
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    Duh
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    I support this effort but do not think that the Republican Senate will approve it.
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    We need to maintain our democracy and make sure everybody can vote!
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    As we live in a new era where information is widely available via all kinds of sources, it’s only natural to find out how it affects voters and how voting is impacted in every way possible. Security should have been addressed years ago because as soon as the ability to have voting machines be computerized was implemented, they became vulnerable. Truthfully it should all be a check and balance for human behavior anyway to keep all election activities fair, balanced and explainable.
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