Should election security be updated? | The Tylt

Should election security be updated?

In former special counsel Robert Mueller's testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees this July, he gave an explicit warning: Russia is interfering with the United States election systems "as we sit here." In a bipartisan report, the Senate Intelligence Committee found Russian government interference in U.S. elections at the state and local level dating back to 2014. Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked Senate Democrats' efforts to pass two election security bills following Mueller's testimony. Does election security need to be ramped up? 

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Mueller's warning to Congress and the country could not be more clear. Per NPR's Philip Ewing: 

Asked whether Russia would attempt to attack future U.S. elections, as it did in 2016, Mueller replied: "They're doing it as we sit here."

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, asked Mueller how Congress might prevent Russian intelligence and other adversaries from interfering with U.S. elections again, to which Mueller replied the ability of the intelligence community to work together is of the "utmost importance." Mueller also warned committee members that other countries are looking to replicate Russian election interference strategy. And when asked if Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was a single attempt by the Russians, Mueller confirmed the Russians were not only acting in that very moment—as committee members spent 6 hours questioning Mueller—but they planning to do so again, around the 2020 election and campaign.

Mueller could not have been more clear: the country needs cooperation and swift action at the federal level in order to increase election security. After 22 months of investigation, the country must trust his sense of urgency. Hurd himself acknowledges blocking said election interference is paramount leading into the 2020 election.

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Nevertheless, the day after Mueller's testimony, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two election security bills. According to ABC News' Trish Turner, McConnell saw the bills as partisan attempts to move forward with practices he believes would benefit Democrats, such as implementing the option for paper ballots.

"This is partisan legislation from the Democratic House of Representatives," McConnell said, noting that the bill garnered just one GOP vote in that chamber and was designed to give Democrats the political upper-hand.
"It's very important that we maintain the integrity and security of our elections in our country," the GOP leader said, but he added, "any Washington involvement in that task needs to be undertaken with extreme care, extreme care and on a thoroughly bipartisan basis. Obviously this legislation is not that. It's just a highly partisan bill from the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia." 

Although McConnell acknowledges the need for secure elections, his statement shows he does not feel pressure to implement aggressive or immediate updates to election practices.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer challenged McConnell to put up another bill himself if he didn't like the solutions presented; meaning, the problem still exists despite McConnell's cries of partisan motivations. Per The Hill's Jordain Carney: 

“Mueller's testimony was a clarion call for election security. Mueller's testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake. … This is all about the future of this country,” [Schumer] added.

Furthermore, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report regarding election security and Russian interference in the 2016 election on the same day McConnell blocked the bills in question. The Hill's Morgan Chalfant and Maggie Miller report: 

Among the key findings of the report, the committee writes that “the Russian government directed extensive activity, beginning in at least 2014 and carrying into at least 2017, against U.S. election infrastructure at the state and local level.”
The congressional document...recommended that officials give “renewed attention” to vulnerabilities in voting infrastructure, such as further securing voter registration databases.
The report also recommends that Congress should consider providing additional funding for states to secure elections once the $380 million appropriated by Congress to states for this purpose in 2018 is spent.

According to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R--N.C., there is still much work to be done when it comes to securing U.S. elections. 

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Despite public outcry at the combined circumstances of Mueller's warning, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report, and McConnell's action in response, some people say the outcry itself is partisan. According to this camp, Congress must be very careful about any changes it makes to the country's election system. 

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Politics
Should election security be updated?
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