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house Bill H.R. 6449

Should States Have to Ensure Their Election System Vendors Are Domestic Companies?

Argument in favor

The security of elections is essential to democracy. Requiring that vendors supplying technology and services for elections be domestically owned is one way to help reduce the risk of foreign interference and hacking.

Renee's Opinion
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10/23/2018
More than being made in the USA we should insure that our votes are cast the way we the voters intended
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IllWill's Opinion
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10/23/2018
There’s no reason to have foreign-owned vendors monitoring our election systems. This presents a national security risk. These vendors should only be owned by people who are committed to ensuring that our elections are run freely and fairly.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/23/2018
Paper ballots are superior for security than the machines that can be hacked by preteens in 15 minuets. But if you insist on weak unsecured electronics, American made is theoretically better. As long as it’s Americans cheating, it’s fine, right? Because that’s what this bill is saying and it is BS. The common chorus of people calling for paper ballots prove that the electronic machines Country of origin is clearly not what concerns most of us in regards to election security. The fact is that the electronic machines have all the weaknesses of electronics. They are hackable, programmable, unverifiable, unsecured and therefore mutable. For those states that lack a strong paper trail, your elections are fundamentally unproven. Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have little to no paper trail. 15 states, literally a third of our states, 198 electoral votes, cannot validate their elections. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency and we have nearly 200 electoral votes that cannot really be proven. When you consider this list the concern that most of us have cannot be dismissed. Our elections need to be physically verifiable. That is what we actually care about.
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Argument opposed

DHS already has the authority to address all election security issue, and there’s $380 million allocated to election security this year. There’s no need for additional agencies to get involved in this issue.

M's Opinion
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10/23/2018
Whatever provides the most secure, efficacious voting of individuals is what we should use. Foreign or domestic. What should really be discussed is whether political figures can have any ties to those companies.
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Mark's Opinion
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10/23/2018
Stop with the nationalism and fear monger already. Domestic companies are NOT any more trustworthy.
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Joe's Opinion
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10/23/2018
Unless we have absolute confidence regarding the integrity of a voting system we shouldn't be using it at all, regardless of who made it. That has nothing to do with country of origin and everything to do with our current inability to produce secure computer systems. Let's stop using ANY computer for balloting until we solve that problem.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedJuly 19th, 2018

What is House Bill H.R. 6449?

This bill — the Protect Election Systems From Foreign Control Act — would require states to take steps to ensure that there’s no foreign ownership or influence on the voting systems used in elections. Elections systems that aren’t owned and controlled by domestic companies would be ineligible for use in federal elections.

This bill would require state and local governments to ensure that each vendor that provides, supports, or maintains any component of a voting system used in the administration of the election is a qualified voting systems vendor. Each year, state and local governments would be required to evaluate all vendors that provide, support, or maintain any components of a voting system to ensure that they’re qualified voting system vendors.

The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) would establish and publish cybersecurity best practices for vendors that provide, support, or maintain voting systems. They’d also establish and publish updates to these practices as appropriate.

DHS and EAC would be required to provide guidance and technical assistance to state and local election agencies. They’d also establish a database for agencies to verify that an election vendor isn’t foreign-controlled, and create an annual review process to examine changes in vendor ownership or control.

Impact

Elections; state and local election officials; voting system vendors; Department of Homeland Security; U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 6449

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) introduced this bill to ensure that elections systems vendors are domestically held:

“It’s alarming that so much of our elections systems could be controlled by foreign-owned entities. This legislation will prevent this from happening again. Our election systems are targets of attacks, and we must take steps to harden and protect our democratic institutions. The integrity and security of our elections transcends partisanship.”

The Brennan Center for Justice supports bolstering state and local election systems to prevent foreign interference and hacking:

“When the history of the 2016 election is written, one of the leading narratives is likely to be how foreign powers tried to influence its outcome. This foreign interference in the presidential election exposed cracks in the security of America’s electoral system, the most fundamental part of our democracy. News reports revealed that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government targeted state and local voter registration databases and managed to access elections systems in as many as 39 states. The attack shows that our current election systems are susceptible to foreign interference, and will only become more vulnerable as hacking methods are refined… While localities have already taken steps to tackle such problems, national solutions are needed to ensure the integrity of upcoming elections in 2018, 2020, and beyond.”

bipartisan group of state AGs has written to Congress expressing their concern over the integrity of the American election system and urging Congress to take steps to protect state election systems from foreign interference:

“[I]t has never been more important to maintain confidence in our democratic voting process. It is imperative that we protect the integrity of our elections. We must ensure that the upcoming 2018 midterm elections are secure and untainted.”

In their letter, the state AGs requested that Congress: (1) prioritize and act on election-security legislation, (2) increase funding for the EAC to support election security improvements at the state level, and to protect voters’ personal data; and (3) support the development of cybersecurity standards for voting systems to prevent potential future foreign attacks.

A similar bill, the Secure Elections Act, failed to pass the Senate Rules and Administration Committee due to White House opposition. At the time, Lindsay Walters, a White House spokesperson, said the government, and mainly DHS, “has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure.”

This bill has the support of 13 cosponsors, including two Republicans and 11 Democrats.


Of NoteThis bill was prompted by the FBI’s revelation that ByteGrid LLC, a firm used by Maryland for elections data, has ties to Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. ByteGrid, which owns the servers that hold the data for voter registration, election management, and election night results for Maryland, is not currently under suspicion of election tampering. However, Maryland officials have asked their state Attorney General and federal officials to help the State Board of Elections review the system.

In 2015, Russian investors — including Potanin — bought an ownership stake in ByteGrid. The company neglected to tell Maryland about this deal at the time.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / hermosawave)

AKA

Protect Election Systems from Foreign Control Act

Official Title

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require States to take steps to ensure that there is no foreign ownership or influence on the voting systems used in elections, and for other purposes.

    More than being made in the USA we should insure that our votes are cast the way we the voters intended
    Like (165)
    Follow
    Share
    Whatever provides the most secure, efficacious voting of individuals is what we should use. Foreign or domestic. What should really be discussed is whether political figures can have any ties to those companies.
    Like (87)
    Follow
    Share
    There’s no reason to have foreign-owned vendors monitoring our election systems. This presents a national security risk. These vendors should only be owned by people who are committed to ensuring that our elections are run freely and fairly.
    Like (71)
    Follow
    Share
    Paper ballots are superior for security than the machines that can be hacked by preteens in 15 minuets. But if you insist on weak unsecured electronics, American made is theoretically better. As long as it’s Americans cheating, it’s fine, right? Because that’s what this bill is saying and it is BS. The common chorus of people calling for paper ballots prove that the electronic machines Country of origin is clearly not what concerns most of us in regards to election security. The fact is that the electronic machines have all the weaknesses of electronics. They are hackable, programmable, unverifiable, unsecured and therefore mutable. For those states that lack a strong paper trail, your elections are fundamentally unproven. Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have little to no paper trail. 15 states, literally a third of our states, 198 electoral votes, cannot validate their elections. It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency and we have nearly 200 electoral votes that cannot really be proven. When you consider this list the concern that most of us have cannot be dismissed. Our elections need to be physically verifiable. That is what we actually care about.
    Like (58)
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    Yes! The company should be domestic and bipartisan.
    Like (29)
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    Stop with the nationalism and fear monger already. Domestic companies are NOT any more trustworthy.
    Like (28)
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    Unless we have absolute confidence regarding the integrity of a voting system we shouldn't be using it at all, regardless of who made it. That has nothing to do with country of origin and everything to do with our current inability to produce secure computer systems. Let's stop using ANY computer for balloting until we solve that problem.
    Like (18)
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    Open source only way to go!!!
    Like (17)
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    Yes, paper grown and manufactured in this country. Use paper ballots. Problem solved. Countable, #StillNotADemocracy
    Like (11)
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    👍🏻👍🏻 Protect Election Systems From Foreign Control Act 👍🏻👍🏻 I’m in strong agreement and recommend the passage of the HOUSE bill H.R. 6449 -the Protect Election Systems From Foreign Control Act — would require states to take steps to ensure that there’s no foreign ownership or influence on the voting systems used in elections. Elections systems that aren’t owned and controlled by domestic companies would be ineligible for use in federal elections. The security of elections is essential to democracy. Requiring that vendors supplying technology and services for elections be domestically owned is one way to help reduce the risk of foreign interference and hacking. 10*28*18 ..... SneakyPete.....
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    This whole topic is a smokescreen. Personally I don’t care if it’s Russians, or the DNC, or the RNC, or a 300 lb guy hacking our voting system. It just needs to stop!
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    Absolutely! The elections we hold are for AMERICAN OFFICIALS / LAWS. We do not need high tech, sophisticated voting machines that are manufactured outside of our country, that could in fact have software backdoors to allow foreign or domestic enemies to manipulate our FREE and INDEPENDENT NATION. Such a compromise destroys the fundamentals of our voting / election / laws and system of authority that we call the REPUBLIC. Such a compromise of integrity allows communists / leftists / terrorists / enemies of our GREAT NATION to manipulate and covertly destroy from within, rather than fight a war. It matters not who votes, but who counts the votes (or who can manipulate the results).
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    The real problems are having our election systems having the unaudited software, linking them to the internet using untested & unsecured wireless units & smartcard. Now many states are using electronic markers that generate nonhuman readable barcodes. Go back to paper ballots, hand marked in ink & scanned. Require original ballots be retained for at least 1 year, and electronic scans of ballots, as well as tabulations, retained for 7 years w backups. Ensure all mail-in ballots are tabulated & provisional ballots quickly reviewed. Protection of all electronic voting systems should be done & systems immediately secured. Post-election audits of systems should always be available.ll voting age American citizens should be able to vote. Automatic registration w car license or state ID issuance. Additionally, no SOS should be allowed to manage own election results like Kemp & Kobach. No purging of voter rolls for lack of voting in prior elections. No purges within 180 days of registration deadlines. No results reporting until all US votes in every time zone tabulations complete.
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    These companies should be absolutely vetted and mandatory security benchmarks should be met.
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    Congress needs to pass national voter’s rights laws to ensure all voter suppression is eradicated.
    Like (6)
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    Voting needs a paper trail and vote by mail. There is no voter fraud contrary to the Republican parties fear monger. Their voter suppression by the republicans which should be the same as voter fraud! By the way, , North Dakota Republicans have rammed through one of the most blatant voter suppression tactics we've ever seen, aimed at preventing Native Americans from voting.
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    The United States is the leader in a Global economy that it created. The United States is “The Invisible Hand” in the entire fictitious Fiat system we refer to as Capitalism. It should not matter that the Election Systems are domestic. The real concern is that the system is secure from Republicans hacking and meddling like The REPUBLICANS did in the 2000 and 2004 elections. I believe the Russian and Chinese hacking was orchestrated via The Unethical Republican regime.
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    The nationality of the vendor is of minimal importance. The security, integrity, and honesty of the voting process is the key. Domestic companies can falsify votes just as easily as someone else. A verifiable paper ballot system is what is necessary. That seems too secure for some locations, however.
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    Paper ballots only.
    Like (4)
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    Uh, can you say potential for election tampering? Yes we DEFINATELY need to have voting equipment made right here in the US! At least we then have some controls over what is going on.
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