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HR 1, For the People Act, Election Hacking Act Introduced

January 7, 2019

House Democrats introduced their first signature bill in the 116th Congress, HR 1, For the People Act, a historic reform package to restore the promise of our democracy and end the culture of corruption in Washington. The package includes two pieces of legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) during the 115th Congress: the Prevent Election Hacking Act of 2018 and the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act (ACMRA) of 2017.

ELECTION HACKING

The Intelligence Community has determined that at least twenty-one state election systems were targeted in the lead-up to the 2016 elections. Unfortunately, many state and local election boards don’t even know when they’ve been hacked—either because they don’t know what to look for or don’t have the technology needed to help spot an intrusion. In June, Rep. Quigley introduced the bipartisan Prevent Election Hacking Act of 2018 to help combat the threat of election hacking by creating an election security “bug bounty program” to encourage independent assessments of election systems by technical and cybersecurity experts. These experts will have the opportunity to assist participating state and local election officials, who often times lack the necessary cybersecurity training and guidance to prevent hacking attempts, uncover both new and existing threats to their systems.

Rep. Quigley, who serves as Illinois’ only Member of the House Intelligence Committee and House Appropriations Committee, is a leader in Congress on promoting election security initiatives and sounding the alarm on the remaining vulnerabilities that undermine our election infrastructure. In March of 2018, he secured $380 million in new FY18 grants to help states fortify, update, and protect election systems from cyber-hacking. In September, Rep. Quigley hosted a bipartisan demonstration to highlight his bill and brief attendees on election security challenges before ‘hacking’ into a voting machine in real-time.

CONGRESSIONALLY MANDATED REPORTS

Each year, Congress receives thousands of reports from federal agencies but does not compile them in a central location. Currently, these reports are maintained by the Clerk of the House in a comprehensive list that runs over 320 pages, instead of in an easily searchable system. The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, which Rep. Quigley introduced for the fourth time in December of 2017, would establish a central repository accessible to congressional staffs and the general public. With this library of all non-confidential agency reports in one place, staffers would be able to maximize their time and energy to better inform lawmakers and the public would have information at their disposal for research purposes and to hold elected officials and the government accountable.

As the co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Transparency Caucus, Rep. Quigley has been committed to expanding public access to government information and enforcing accountability. In 2017, he introduced the COVFEFE Act to require presidential social media postings be classified at presidential records and the MAR-A-LAGO Act to require disclosure of visitor logs at the White House and other Trump properties where official government business is conducted. In 2017, Rep. Quigley also re-introduced the Transparency in Government Act to increase access, accountability, and transparency at every branch of the federal government with a focus on federal spending, financial disclosure requirements, and improve judicial transparency.

HR 1, FOR THE PEOPLE ACT

The For the People Act, of which Rep. Quigley is a cosponsor, lays the groundwork for Democrats’ entire agenda in the new Congress, declaring to the American people that we are committed to working for the people, not the special interests. Once we give Americans a seat at the table, we will be better suited to tackle our most pressing problems like reducing the cost of prescription drugs, combating climate change and building an economy that works for all Americans. During the last election, Democrats heard the frustration from Americans across the country that their voices are too often not heard in Washington and promised to change that and to clean up the culture of corruption. H.R. 1 is a promise kept.

Specifically, The For the People Act will:

  • Make it easier, not harder, to vote by implementing automatic voter registration, requiring early voting and vote by mail, committing Congress to reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act and ensuring the integrity of our elections by modernizing and strengthening our voting systems and ending partisan redistricting.
     
  • Reform big money politics by requiring all political organizations to disclose large donors, updating political advertisement laws for the digital age, establishing a public matching system for citizen-owned elections and revamping the Federal Election Commission to ensure there’s a cop on the campaign finance beat.
     
  • Strengthen ethics laws to ensure the public officials work in the public interest, including by extending conflict of interest laws to the President and Vice President and requiring the release of their tax returns, closing loopholes that allow former members of Congress to avoid cooling-off periods for lobbying, breaking the revolving door between industry and the federal government and establishing a code of conduct for the Supreme Court.

“Our foreign adversaries don’t have to hack into every single board of election to undermine our democratic process; it just takes a couple to achieve their goal of eroding public trust in our electoral system,” said Rep Quigley.” Unfortunately, many state and local election boards don’t even know when they’ve been hacked—either because they don’t know what to look for or don’t have the technology needed to help spot an intrusion. That is why we must continue to better understand the vulnerabilities that exist so we can implement infrastructure upgrades that address them head on. This important bill will enlist the unique knowledge of cybersecurity experts to safeguard the foundation of our democracy—the right to free and fair elections.”

“As we saw in the last election cycle, our adversaries are committed to interfering in our nation’s democratic process,” said Rep. Katko. “This is a grave threat to our country and our nation’s security. Our voting systems remain vulnerable to hacking, and we must do more to protect against cyber aggression. This is an issue we must work across the aisle to address, and I’m proud to take the lead with my colleague Rep. Quigley. The bipartisan measure we’ve introduced today will help ensure our nation’s foremost experts on cybersecurity have the tools that they need to identify and combat malicious cyberattacks against our democracy.”

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