Blue Dogs Back Bipartisan Legislation to Secure Voting Systems

Jan 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, the Blue Dog Coalition, which focuses on issues related to fiscal responsibility and national security, announced its endorsement of H.R. 4990, the Election Technology Research Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that will give the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) new resources to conduct research to promote the security and modernization of U.S. voting systems. The legislation was introduced in the House by Blue Dog member, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), and has been approved by the House Science Committee.  


Throughout this Congress, the Blue Dog Coalition has led an effort to draw attention to the national security threat posed by Russia and other foreign adversaries in their attempts to meddle in U.S. elections and call for a comprehensive, bipartisan effort in Congress to secure our election infrastructure and hold adversaries accountable for their actions.


“Election security is a bipartisan concern, and we are working together to address vulnerabilities with our voting systems,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and lead sponsor of the Election Technology Research Act of 2019. “Our democracy only works if all eligible citizens can participate in elections and be confident that their ballots have been accurately cast and counted. The Election Technology Research Act of 2019 will help to ensure that the technical underpinnings of our election architecture are solid.”


“In order to fix our broken system in Washington and restoring American’s faith in their government, the integrity and security of our elections cannot be questioned or partisan,” said Rep. Max Rose (NY-11), Army combat veteran and Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “Unfortunately attacks on our democratic processes have also become standard practice for countries looking to threaten our national security, which is why the bipartisan Election Technology Research Act of 2019 is such a crucial step to guard against those threats.”


“The integrity of our democracy depends on our ability to protect the security of our elections,” said Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security. “The Election Technology Research Act provides the resources and infrastructure needed to innovate, improve security, and modernize elections across the country. This is a practical, bipartisan step to help strengthen the security of our elections and protect our democracy against future threats.”


 The Election Technology Research Act of 2019 will authorize new research and standards activities to strengthen the technology supporting elections systems. Specifically, this bill will:   


  • Authorize research activities at NIST on cybersecurity, privacy, auditing, and other important areas of research related to the security and integrity of elections;  


  • Establish an Elections Systems Center of Excellence at NIST to foster collaborations between NIST, universities, state and local governments, and private stakeholders; 


  • Authorize new research grants for elections systems research and education at NSF;  


  • Direct NIST to carry out specific tasks supporting secure elections, including providing technical assistance to state and local election officials on implementation of cybersecurity and privacy standards; 


  • Require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to assess the impact of NIST’s activities; and 


  • Amend the Help America Vote Act definition of “voting systems” to include not just the voting machines but also electronic poll books and voter registration systems. 


Additional Background on Blue Dog Coalition Efforts to Secure U.S. Elections:


  • In the wake of the conclusions presented in Volume I of the Mueller report, the Blue Dog Coalition took the lead in Congress to call for a comprehensive, bipartisan effort to secure U.S. elections, hold Russia accountable for its attempts to meddle in the 2016 and 2018 elections, and deter other adversaries from interfering in future elections. Over the summer, the Blue Dogs took initiative to raise the alarm by endorsing a package of legislative proposals that have earned bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The news of the Blue Dog proposal received praise from political leaders, and policy experts and organizations, and the threat of increased sanctions on Russia caused the value of the Russian ruble to drop. 


  • The Blue Dog proposal continues to serve as roadmap for Congress to take concrete steps to secure the U.S. election infrastructure ahead of the 2020 election. Several of the Blue Dog-endorsed policies were included in the SAFE Act and the SHIELD Act, both of which have passed the House and await action in the Senate. The Blue Dogs have continued their calls for the House and Senate to take up additional bipartisan legislation to address this national security threat with an all-encompassing, comprehensive approach.


  • In October, the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition and the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees calling for robust funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in order to support its grant funding for states, territories, and the District of Columbia, to strengthen protections of their election infrastructure. That effort resulted in Congress allocating $425 million—the largest amount allocated to this date—for states to strengthen their election security.