FreedomWorks’ Bills of the Month for October 2018: Election Security Legislation

FreedomWorks is proud to announce that our joint bills of the month for October 2018 are four election security measures in both chambers of Congress, the Secure Elections Act, S. 2261, introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.); the PAVE Act, S. 3049, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.); the PAPER Act, H.R. 3751, introduced by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.); and the Securing America’s Elections Act, H.R. 5147, introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

These bills would give states the resources to audit the results of federal elections, to ensure accuracy, and to safeguard against cyber threats. They will allow states to use voter-verified paper ballots to ensure that any result obtained by electronic voting machines has not been tampered with.

Given this time in our nation’s history, it is vitally important that our governance not be hindered by constant questions regarding the legitimacy of our elections. Shortly after the 2016 election, DEFCON, the world’s largest hacking conference, demonstrated wide-ranging vulnerabilities in the U.S. election systems, with hackers being able to penetrate the systems in just a few minutes with limited resources. In a nation as advanced as ours, this is unacceptable.

Since that time, there have been questions about election security and integrity in places like Johnson County (Kansas), Georgia, and in the nation at-large, as the type of voting machine used by half the country was recently discovered to be susceptible to attacks. These potential vulnerabilities throw the health of our democracy into question, and throw a wrench into important foreign policy discussions due to paranoia about potential perpetrators.

Fortunately, the fix does not require new, expensive technology, but an old familiar one. Paper ballots cannot be hacked, and can be acquired cheaply by voting precincts across the country. This would not preclude states from using whatever technology they see fit, but would ensure that a paper backup was available to verify the accuracy of the results obtained through voting machines.

The Constitution vests the power of conducting elections to the states and localities. However, the federal government is tasked with “providing for the common defense.” Normally, big government advocates use the common defense clause to justify any invasive government policy. In this case, it actually applies.

The clause is derived from Article VIII of the Articles of Confederation, which states, “All charges of war and others incurred for the common defense shall be defrayed by Congress through a national treasury assisted by funds from the states.” It would seem that Congress appropriating funds to assist states in the verification of their election results would fit that description. It is a common sense measure that ensures the defense of our elections without dictating to states and localities how to manage their processes.

Now, each of these bills has its nuances and differences, but this is a debate well worth having. We hope to see, in the near future, a lively discussion surrounding all of these bills on the floors of both chambers of Congress, so we can get serious about protecting the right to vote for all Americans.