Election Security Bills Finally Advance in Congress


After years of controversy over real and imagined security attacks against US elections, the US House of Representatives should then consider and adopt the HR 1, also known as the "People's Law of 2019" which includes provisions to improve electoral security. and help States to improve their voting systems, demand transparency in political activities and reinforce the rules of ethics.

If passed, the bill would provide money so that states could replace their existing unsecured voting machines, require notification of violations, and set security standards for purchased voting machines. with federal funds. One of the main features of the new standards is that voting machines use paper ballots.

A similar bill was introduced in the US Senate at the end of 2017, but was never examined. This bill was S.2261, the Secure Elections Act. This was a bipartisan bill and the authors announced their intention to present it again at the beginning of the new Congress. The Senate bill does not require paper ballots, but instead requires a paper audit trail, including an impression created by a voting machine.

Although Senate Bill 1 contains a number of common provisions, the chances of it being passed by the Senate are low. This is partly because the bill contains a wide range of provisions, some of which are likely to be opposed by the Senate. These include the need for paper ballots, which have met with opposition because of a reluctance of the Senate to impose restrictions on elections, which are governed by the US Constitution.

In addition, some of the ethical provisions, including the disclosure of the income tax returns of candidates for the office of President and Vice-President, and the requirement for a candidate, when elected, to vacate certain financial interests likely to generate a conflict of interest, risk opposition to the White House.

The Senate bill is more limited than the house

The bipartisan Senate bill, if it is presented in the same form as before, is much more limited, but, like the House bill, sets security standards for the conduct of elections. The main blocking point is the way in which the Senate bill specifies the audit, which is to let the voting machine produce the audit trail on paper. The problem is that someone who hacks a voting machine could also create a false trail of auditing.

Both bills provide for a series of subsidies to finance the modernization of election machines, which will be administered by the Electoral Assistance Commission. In addition, the draft laws establish standards for security clearances, secure processing of election results and security audits of machines and voting systems.

Both bills would also require the reporting of possible cyber security attacks, and they set out requirements for sharing information about these attacks. The reporting requirements would also apply to electoral agencies and election service providers, which would require election service providers to cooperate in any investigation.

At this point, it is unclear when (or even if) the Senate bill will be reintroduced. However, if it is presented in the same form as before, it is difficult to see how much there is much to blame. While the deputies who have submitted HR 1 may complain that the Senate bill's requirements for paper ballots are not severe enough, the fact is that the bill is a thoughtful effort to bring to the times security and common sense to holding elections in the United States. States.

Congress takes security more seriously

Regardless of the success of these two bills, the important thing is that the climate of Congress has changed with respect to security. Where such bills have disappeared without trace, they are now seriously taken into account. This is more important than you think, because once bills of this type are actively adopted by Congress, some form of law will probably be passed.

Unfortunately, because of the level of dysfunction of Congress, and in particular the White House, a bill establishing real security standards for the electoral process is facing an uncertain future. The Secure Elections Act is an excellent example. This bill is carefully crafted, has achievable goals, will help ensure safe elections that are not corrupted, and benefits from the sponsors of the two main political parties.

So, why is the adoption of the Senate bill in doubt? Senate leaders can not present it to the assembly if there is a question about the support of the president. The House may not approve this idea because the House of Commons leaders expect them to pass a perfect election security bill that ticks every conceivable box.

But as any bill must be passed by both houses of Congress, it will never be a bill that both chambers consider perfect. What may exist is an electoral safety bill that is good enough to do good. This is a case where it is clear that the pursuit of perfection can prevent what is good enough to happen. It's a shame, given the sad state of electoral security in the United States, being good enough is much better than what we have now.