White House Holds Up Bill Aimed at Safeguarding U.S. Elections

August 24, 2018, 12:59 PM UTC
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The White House has put the brakes on a bill that was proposed to protect U.S. elections, according to a new report.

Introduced last year by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), the Secure Elections Act would give each state’s top election official security clearance to know about any threats to their election infrastructure, systems, and other technologies. The bill has earned bipartisan support and was on its way to a vote in October, but at the White House’s recent request, has been delayed in the Senate, Yahoo News is reporting, citing congressional sources.

The White House said in a statement that it believes the bill is unnecessary. Spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told the online news service that the “Department of Homeland Security has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure.”

Walters added that the bill would duplicate efforts. She cautioned that if the Secure Elections Act moves forward, it should “not violate the principles of Federalism.”

The Secure Elections Act is about more than protecting infrastructure. It also paves the way for improved information-sharing between federal and state authorities to safeguard elections and establishes a technical advisory board that would be tasked with creating solutions to cybersecurity concerns. Each state would also need to conduct an audit after each election.

It’s unclear what’s next for the bill. Democrats are firmly behind the measure, according to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who co-sponsored the bill. But now it appears that at least some Republicans are backing out. And the chances of it going to a vote at all, let alone before the midterm elections in November, are slim.