Senator Collins Urges Colleagues to Take Steps to Strengthen Election Security

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Click HERE to watch Senator Collins deliver remarks at the press conference

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Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined her colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee this afternoon to unveil the Committee’s findings and recommendations on threats to U.S. election infrastructure.  Senator Collins was one of four Committee members who were chosen to speak at today’s press conference by Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) on the Committee’s bipartisan investigation.

“While our investigation is still ongoing, one conclusion is clear: the Russians were relentless in attempting to meddle in the 2016 election, and they will continue their efforts,” said Senator Collins.  “I recently joined a bipartisan group to introduce the Secure Elections Act, which would assist states in hardening their defenses against foreign adversaries by providing funding and authorizing appropriate security clearances to top election officials. Given that we are already in an election year, the need to act now is urgent.”

At a hearing last month, the leadership of the intelligence community were unanimous in their assessment that the Russians are determined to continue their sophisticated attacks to exacerbate social and political divisions in our country.  While the Department of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission, state and local governments, and other groups have taken beneficial steps toward addressing the vulnerabilities exposed during the 2016 election cycle, more needs to be done to secure our electoral process. 

At today’s press conference, the Committee released six recommendations that would strengthen states’ defenses against a hostile nation-state seeking to undermine democracy by:

  1. Reinforcing states’ primacy in running elections;
  2. Creating an effective deterrence;
  3. Improving information sharing on threats;
  4. Securing election-related systems;
  5. Taking steps to secure the vote itself; and
  6. Providing assistance for the states.

Additional background on each recommendation can be found HERE.

As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Collins has worked to protect the United States from foreign interference to ensure the integrity of our future elections.  In December, she joined a bipartisan group of six Senators in introducing the Secure Elections Act, a bill to strengthen election cybersecurity.  In addition, this week Senator Collins sent a letter with Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to step up its efforts to protect the United States from Russian interference in our elections. 

Tomorrow, the Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing that will examine attempted attacks on state election infrastructure in 2016, DHS efforts to improve election security, and the view from the states and independent experts on our cybersecurity posture.