Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today introduced bipartisan legislation to establish the National Commission on the Cybersecurity of the United States Election Systems.
The Commission – based on a model similar to the 9-11 Commission that investigated the terror attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania – would look into the cyber-attacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle and make recommendations on the best way to protect our nation going forward.
Cyber-attacks, in particular those from foreign intelligence services hostile to democracy, are a growing threat to candidates and political parties. They also pose a danger to nonpartisan election officials and election infrastructure, which are responsible for keeping accurate tabs on voter rolls and vote tabulation.
“There is no credible doubt that Russia attacked our election infrastructure in 2016,” said Gillibrand. “We need a public accounting of how they were able to do it so effectively, and how we can protect our country when Russia or any other nation tries to attack us again. The clock is ticking before our next election, and these questions are urgent. We need to be able to defend ourselves against threats to our elections, our democracy, and our sacred right to vote. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to create a 9-11-style Commission to defend our democracy and protect ourselves against future attacks on our country.”
“Hostile governments like Russia don’t believe in democracy,” said Graham. “They have shown an eagerness to meddle in elections in the United States and other democratic nations. We need to ensure we fully understand the threat they pose and the best practices to protect ourselves from future attacks. But Russia is not our only worry. We could face future attacks from North Korea, Iran, China, and others who oppose American foreign policy and reject the values we hold dear. This issue should be beyond partisan politics as it strikes at the heart of our democracy. We must take steps to ensure that we protect the integrity of our elections from hostile, outside, and foreign influences.”
Members of the Commission would be selected by state election authorities and congressional leadership so that a comprehensive group of experts would be able to make recommendations to lawmakers on how to address the concerning vulnerabilities of our election systems.
The Commission would do the following:
- Identify action steps or prevention measures which address cybersecurity vulnerabilities related to the 2016 election in the United States;
- Document and describe any harm or attempted harm with respect to election systems in the United States in 2016;
- Review foreign cyber interference in elections in other countries in order to understand additional cybersecurity threats, interference methods, and successful defense mechanisms;
- Make a full and complete accounting of what emerging threats and unmitigated vulnerabilities remain and identify likely threats to election systems in the United States; and
- Report on the recommendations of the Commission for action at the Federal, State, and local level.