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Democrats push $1 billion bill for election security

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congressional Democrats on Wednesday launched laws that would offer greater than $1 billion to spice up cyber security of U.S. voting programs, and Vice President Mike Pence defended the administration’s efforts to guard polls from hackers.

The measure adopted warnings on Tuesday from U.S. intelligence officers that midterm races in November are prone to see renewed meddling from Russia and probably different overseas adversaries.

“We cannot let the Russians laugh about and take joy in the success they had in the last election,” Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic chief within the House of Representatives, mentioned at a information convention. “Their goal is to undermine democracy.”

Lawmakers have launched a number of payments, some with bipartisan assist, to bolster election security because the 2016 polls by which Republican Donald Trump was elected president. None have change into regulation.

The new bill is essentially the most complete thus far and is geared toward bolstering safety for the midterms and subsequent elections. It has no Republican co-sponsors within the House, which the celebration controls, and is subsequently unlikely to succeed.

Vice President Mike Pence, talking at an occasion hosted by the web information website Axios, mentioned that Americans may belief the 2016 election outcomes and that it was an “ongoing effort” of Trump’s administration to guard election infrastructure.

Pence additionally incorrectly mentioned it was the “universal conclusion” amongst intelligence companies that Moscow’s efforts had no affect on the 2016 election end result.

The companies mentioned in a January 2017 report that no evaluation was made concerning the affect of Russian meddling however that Russia used hacking and propaganda to attempt to tilt the election in Trump’s favor. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied this.

A Pence consultant didn’t instantly reply to a request to make clear the discrepancy between Pence’s feedback and the intelligence evaluation.

The Democrats’ Election Security Act would offer $1 billion for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to assist states purchase voting machines that incorporate backup paper ballots, rent security workers and conduct danger assessments.

The measure would create a $20 million grant program for states to carry out post-election audits. States would additionally get $1 for every voter in the latest election for security functions.

The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to expedite security clearances for state election officers and direct the president to develop a method to protect U.S. establishments, together with elections, from cyber assaults and affect operations.

The division final 12 months mentioned 21 states had skilled preliminary probing of their programs from Russian hackers and a small variety of networks have been compromised.

Virtually all 50 states have taken steps because the 2016 election to buy safer gear, develop use of paper ballots, enhance cyber coaching or search federal help, in line with teams that observe election security.

But Congress has not offered extra money or assist, and lawmakers have did not allocate $400 million in leftover election enchancment funds pledged 16 years in the past.

Reporting by Dustin Volz; extra reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jim Finkle and Ian Simpson

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