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Policy Summary
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began an investigation in 2017 after widespread reports of Russian tampering and influence in the Presidential election of 2016. After conducting 5 open hearings, interviewing more than 200 witnesses and reviewing nearly 400,000 documents, the committee chaired by Richard Burr (R. North Carolina) and Deputy Chair Mark Warner (D. Virginia) concluded in its final report issued the day after Robert Mueller’s testimony to Congress that “The Russian government directed extensive activity, beginning in at least 2014 and carrying into at least 2017, against U.S. election infrastructure’ at the state and local level.

In its unanimous conclusion the report calls out the inadequacy of the response to date: “If there was ever a moment when Congress needed to exercise its clear constitutional authorities to regulate elections, this is it. America is facing a direct assault on the heart of our democracy by a determined adversary. We would not ask a local sheriff to go to war against the missiles, planes and tanks of the Russian Army. We shouldn’t ask a county election IT employee to fight a war against the full capabilities and vast resources of Russia’s cyber army. That approach failed in 2016 and it will fail again.”

As of this writing, there have been no coordinated Administration proposals or US Senate legislation to coordinate a response or mount a defense.

Analysis
The US Senate has sent an unambiguous bipartisan message to the Trump Administration that, despite the President’s underplaying of the issue, election interference occurred in 2016 and remains a threat as we approach the 2020 election cycle. Yet Donald Trump undermined this bipartisan recognition of the threat at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan  just two weeks earlier when, in a much replayed moment for the cameras he smiled and joked with Vladimir Putin at a photo op, “”Don’t meddle in the election.”

It now appears that it is a clear policy of the Trump Administration to frustrate any attempt to beef up our election systems cybersecurity defenses.. As in 2016 Trump was the beneficiary of this interference, it is likely, he will be the beneficiary in his reelection bid.

Resistance Resources:

  • The full, heavily redacted, test of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence can be found here
  • Donald Trump’s “invitation” to Vladimir Putin to continue his cyber attacks on US Elections
  • The National Election Defense Coalition is building a bipartisan national movement to secure elections technology. It brings together experts in cybersecurity and elections administration, policymakers, NGOs and concerned citizens to build consensus on a compreheVerifiedVoting.ornsive, cost-effective plan to secure the vote in coming elections.
  • org is a non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates for legislation and regulation that promotes accuracy, transparency and verifiability of elections

Photo by unsplash-logoArnaud Jaegers

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