Washington, DC -- Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) announced the introduction of the Election Technology Research Act of 2019 (H.R. 4990), joined by Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Frank Lucas (R-OK). This bipartisan bill 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.
“There are few things more central to American democracy than the safety and security of our elections, where citizens from all walks of life can cast their vote and know it will be counted,” said Congresswoman Sherrill. “The election security hearing I held this summer underscored the urgent need for federal research and resources to combat the growing threats against the technologies that have become essential to our elections. I’m introducing this bill with my colleagues to help states arm themselves with strategies to prevent interference and the resources and support to ensure voting systems are reliable and secure.”
“With new threats facing our electoral system, it is absolutely imperative that we continue to modernize and improve our election security. Ohio has long been a leader when it comes to election practices, and this bill will update federal laws to reflect today’s technology and encourage innovation on the state and local level to secure our election systems,” said Congressman Gonzalez.
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.
On June 26, 2019, House Science Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill held a hearing with voting technology and election administration experts to discuss U.S. election system technologies and research recommendations made in the 2018 National Academies report Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy. The report and the expert testimony from that hearing helped informed the development of the Election Technology Research Act of 2019.
Representative Mikie Sherrill is a former federal prosecutor and a U.S. Navy veteran. On her last tour, she served as a Russia policy officer, and handled interactions between the United States Navy and the Russian Federation Navy. In June, Representative Sherrill announced her endorsement of a series of bipartisan bills in the House and Senate to address foreign interference and election security.