Senator Collins Cosponsors Bipartisan Bill to Deter Foreign Interference in American Elections

The DETER Act would mandate tough sanctions on Russia if it attempts to meddle or undermine faith in U.S. elections again

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Intelligence Committee, cosponsored the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. The bipartisan legislation sends a powerful message to any foreign nation seeking to disrupt our elections that if it attacks American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, it will face severe consequences.

“We know for certain that the Russians were relentless in their efforts to meddle in the 2016 elections,” said Senator Collins.  “This legislation will help to secure our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy, by swiftly imposing harsh sanctions on Russia if the Director of National Intelligence determines that it has attempted to influence or undermine faith in our electoral process again.”


The DETER Act, which was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), uses key national security tools to dissuade hostile foreign powers from meddling in our elections.  In addition to requiring sanctions to be imposed on Russia if the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) confirms that it has interfered in a U.S. election, the bill would direct the Administration to develop a plan to prevent interference by any foreign country in the future. 


Specifically, the DETER Act’s provisions include:


Reporting Requirements


  • The DNI must issue to Congress a determination on whether any foreign government has interfered in that election within one month after every federal election.


List of Actions That Will Elicit Retaliation


  • A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot purchase advertisements to influence an election, including online ads.


  • A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot use social and traditional media to spread significant amounts of false information to Americans.


  • A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot hack and release or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.


  • A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot block or otherwise hinder access to elections infrastructure, such as websites providing information on polling locations.


Russia-Specific Sanctions


  • If the DNI determines that the Kremlin has once again interfered in an American federal election, the bill mandates a set of severe sanctions that must be implement within ten days of the DNI’s determination.


  • This includes sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, defense, and metals and mining.


  • Every senior Russian political figure or oligarch, identified in the report required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Act of 2017, will be blacklisted from entering the United States and will have their assets blocked.


  • The Administration is also required to work with the European Union enlist their support in adopting a sanctions regime to broaden the impact.


Plan to Prepare for Other Potential Attacks


  • The DNI has identified China, Iran, and North Korea as our other major foreign government cyber threats, and they may also seek to exploit American vulnerabilities in the next election cycle.


  • The Administration should present Congress with a plan for preventing interference in our elections for each of these countries and any other foreign state of significant concern.