Spanberger, Valadao Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen U.S. Voting Systems Against Foreign Attacks

U.S. Senate Version is Led by U.S. Senators Mark Warner & Susan Collins

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and David Valadao (R-CA-22) today introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen the security of U.S. election infrastructure by requiring that voting systems undergo simulated attacks as part of their standard certification process.

Given ongoing attempts from foreign governments — like Russia and Iran — and foreign intelligence services to meddle in and influence U.S. elections, the United States must take measures to secure election systems against interference. Current regulations under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) require the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide for the testing and certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories. However, HAVA does not explicitly require penetration testing of voting systems.

The Spanberger and Valadao-led Strengthening Election Cybersecurity to Uphold Respect for Elections through Independent Testing (SECURE IT) Act would direct the EAC to require that voting systems undergo cybersecurity penetration testing — a practice that allows researchers to search for vulnerabilities by attempting to attack a system with the same tools and techniques used by cybercriminals — in order to receive certification. Additionally, the bill would direct the EAC to create a voluntary program for vetted researchers to access voting systems provided voluntarily by manufacturers to discover vulnerabilities and disclose them to the manufacturer and EAC.

“We continue to hear reports of foreign governments, individuals, and companies actively working to influence U.S. elections and subvert our democracy,” said Spanberger. “The sanctity of our free and fair elections is core to our identity as Americans. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation to help uncover potential vulnerabilities in our election systems, strengthen our elections infrastructure, and raise our defenses against bad actors.”

“People need to have confidence in their vote and our elections in order for democracy to succeed,” said Valadao. “The SECURE IT Act will help us find and fix the vulnerabilities in our voting systems that could be exploited by foreign or domestic adversaries. This is an important step to ensure the safety and security of our nation’s elections.”

The SECURE IT Act is endorsed by Common Cause Virginia.

“With only months until the 2024 election is fully underway, hostile actors continue to use cyberattacks to try to infiltrate and disrupt our elections,” said Lauren Coletta, Senior Advisor, Common Cause Virginia. “We must do everything we can to protect our elections and guarantee that the voices of all voters will be heard. Common Cause Virginia applauds Representative Spanberger for introducing the bipartisan SECURE IT Act to ensure our elections can continue to be free, fair, and secure, and we urge Congress to quickly pass much-needed reforms like the ones in this bill.”

Companion legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

Click here for bill text.

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