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Senators Collins, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Secure our Elections by Providing Training for Election Officials

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Intelligence Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), introduced legislation to secure our elections by providing training to state and local election officials. As adversaries continue to target our elections, the jobs of election administrators has become more complex and demanding. The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019 would direct the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to provide grants in support of continuing education in election administration or cybersecurity for election officials and employees.


Following the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to designate election infrastructure as critical infrastructure, state and local election officials have become our first line of defense in protecting our democracy from cyberattacks. While these officials play an important role in election security, most have not received adequate training or support. In 2014, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued a report that called for more election administration training programs, leading some universities to respond by establishing certificate programs in election administration. While these programs are available to election officials, there is currently no federal program to help with the cost of election administration training. Declaring that election security is national security is not enough to protect our systems from attack – we must devote resources to training our election officials.


“We know for certain that the Russians were relentless in their efforts to meddle in the 2016 elections,” said Senator Collins.  “In an effort to defend this cornerstone of our democracy, our bipartisan bill would help provide training and support to election officials who are on the frontlines to ensure our elections are safe and secure.”


“Our intelligence officials have made clear that our election systems continue to be a target for foreign adversaries,” said Senator Klobuchar, Ranking Member of the Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections. “Election security is national security and we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy from future attacks. That means making sure those that are on the front lines of administering elections have the resources and information they need to safeguard our election systems. The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019 would ensure that election officials have the training and resources to improve cyber-defenses ahead of future elections.”


The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019 would:


·         Establish a grant program administered by the Election Assistance Commission to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of the yearly tuition of election officials and employees who are enrolled in an accredited certificate program for election administration or cybersecurity;


·         Define eligible persons to include state or local election officials, employees of a State or local election official, or an employee of the EAC; and


·         Provide $1,000,000 for fiscal year 2021 and such sums necessary for each fiscal years between 2022 and 2028.


As a member of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Collins is committed to securing our elections. During a hearing earlier this month, Senator Collins questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray on ongoing efforts to deter foreign interference in American elections.  In April, Senator Collins cosponsored the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, a bipartisan bill that would use key national security tools to dissuade hostile foreign powers from meddling in our elections.  In March, Senator Collins joined Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) in introducing the Protect Our Elections Act, which would prohibit foreign adversaries from owning and controlling the companies supporting American elections.