Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Landmark Election Security Legislation

The Election Security Act would improve election cybersecurity and combat foreign interference in our democracy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to introduced election security legislation that would require backup paper ballots and provide election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits.  The Election Security Act represents the election security portions of H.R.1 and was introduced as standalone legislation in the House of Representatives last week. 

“The Russian cyberattack on the Illinois electronic voter database in the 2016 elections was a wake-up call and demonstrated a clear vulnerability in our election security.  Because of this, federal, state, and local governments must continue to work together to implement additional security in order to prevent this sort of meddling in our elections from occurring again,” Durbin said.  “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans have done little to prevent future efforts by Russia or others to influence and disrupt the 2020 elections.  I’m proud to help introduce this important legislation with Senators Klobuchar and Duckworth so that Illinoisans and all Americans can be confident in our democratic process.  I hope that Leader McConnell will allow a debate and vote on this urgent matter.”

“Americans deserve safe and secure elections that aren’t threatened by foreign adversaries.  In Illinois, a state where the Russians hacked into our voter database in 2016, this investment is critical to protect our voting system,” Duckworth said.  “The Election Security Act, which requires paper ballots and establishes critical cybersecurity standards, is a common-sense approach to upholding the integrity of each American’s vote and strengthening our election security.  In the aftermath of the special counsel’s investigation into the 2016 election, this legislation is more important than ever and I urge Leader McConnell to allow us to vote on it as soon as possible.”

Along with Durbin, Duckworth, and Klobuchar, the bill is also cosponsored by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael (Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jackie Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Specifically, the Election Security Act would:

  • Require states use paper ballots.
  • Establish cybersecurity standards for voting systems vendors.
  • Fund grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems, to provide cybersecurity training to election officials, and to implement post-election risk limiting audits.
  • Require the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to election systems 180 days before an election and require the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to issue recommendations to address threats.
  • Require the testing of voting systems nine months before an election.
  • Require the President to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions.
  • Create a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions.

Last month, Durbin and Duckworth joined the entire Senate Democratic Caucus to introduce the For the People Act — a sweeping package of comprehensive reforms that would fix our broken politics and make government work for the people.

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.