Durbin, Duckworth Discuss Election Security With State Board Of Elections Chair Chuck Scholz

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today met with Illinois State Board of Elections Chairman Chuck Scholz to discuss election security and how the federal government can assist the state in protecting its elections from foreign interference.  Durbin and Duckworth discussed their efforts in the Senate to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring bills to the floor that would help ensure safe and secure elections. 

“This week, the FBI Director confirmed – in agreement with major intelligence agencies – that the Russians are at it again in 2020. Unfortunately, Leader McConnell has done little to prevent future efforts by Russia or others to influence and disrupt the 2020 election. Today with Chairman Scholz, I reiterated my support for state efforts to secure our elections and promised I would do everything in my power to assist him,” Durbin said.

“In light of Special Counsel Mueller confirming that in 2016 the Russians broke into our state’s election database, Senator Durbin and I had an important conversation with Chairman Scholz today about how we can better defend our election systems against cyberattacks,” Duckworth said. “It’s critical that we continue to focus on this issue as we approach the 2020 Presidential election, which is why I’ve helped introduce multiple pieces of legislation to strengthen election security by requiring paper ballots, streamlining cybersecurity information-sharing, prevent states from purging eligible voters from registration lists and much more.”

“Election security is our number one priority in Illinois,” Scholz said. “We are thankful for meeting with Senators Durbin and Duckworth and plan to meet with other members of the Illinois delegation to discuss how we keep our elections safe.”

A photo of today’s meeting is available here.

In May, Durbin and Duckworth helped introduce the Election Security Act, which currently has 40 cosponsors. This critical, comprehensive election security legislation would r provide significant election security funding to states for cyber improvements and audits and establish a robust federal effort to protect our democracy. 

In June, the Senate took a small step forward when it passed the bipartisan Defending Elections against Trolls from Enemy Regimes (DETER) Act, which was introduced by Durbin and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  This bill will make “improper interference in U.S. elections” a violation of U.S. immigration law, and violators would be barred from obtaining a visa to enter the United States.

Beginning in June 2016, the Illinois State Board of Elections was the target of a malicious, month-long cyberattack that enabled the intruder to access confidential voter information and view the registration data of approximately 76,000 voters in Illinois.  Last year, Illinois received $13.2 million in new federal funding to strengthen its election security systems, part of the Fiscal Year 2018 federal omnibus spending bill that provided $380 million to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).