Brown Introduces Bill to Help Improve Ohio Election Security, Combat Foreign Interference

Senator’s Bill Follows State Legislation to Invest in New Voting Machines Across Ohio; Brown, Former Ohio Secretary of State, Has Long Led Efforts to Improve Voting

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined 37 Senators to introduce the Election Security Act to improve election security and combat foreign interference by requiring backup paper ballots and providing election security grants to states for cyber improvements and audits. In 2018, Gov. Kasich signed legislation that appropriates more than $114 million in state funding to help Ohio counties replace outdated voting machines. While Ohio counties work to update voting machines across the state ahead of the 2020 elections, Brown’s bill will build on those investments to improve voting in Ohio by setting federal standards and provide important resources to help Ohio keep elections secure and free from foreign interference.   

“Ohio counties are investing in new voting machines and the federal government needs to do its part to help Ohio reduce threats from foreign interference and remain vigilant to protect the integrity of our elections,” said Brown. 

Specifically, Brown’s Election Security Act would: 

  • Require states use paper ballots.
  • Establish cybersecurity standards for voting systems vendors.
  • Fund grants for states to improve and maintain the security of their election systems, to provide cybersecurity training to election officials, and to implement post-election risk limiting audits.
  • Require the Director of National Intelligence to assess threats to election systems 180 days before an election and require the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission to issue recommendations to address threats.
  • Require the testing of voting systems nine months before an election.
  • Require the President to produce a national strategy for protecting democratic institutions.
  • Create a National Commission to Protect United States Democratic Institutions. 

As a former Secretary of State, Brown has long led efforts to improve voting in Ohio. Brown oversaw eight elections as Secretary of State while also working aggressively to increase voter registration in Ohio – even convincing McDonald’s to print voter registration forms on tray liners. The Washington Post once called Brown’s efforts to register voters in Ohio “probably the most intensive and wide-ranging in the nation.”  

In February, Brown joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar to introduce the SAVE VOTERS Act to protect the constitutional rights of Americans from voter “purges.” In June 2018, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute opened the door for states to remove registered voters from voting rolls for a failure to vote in multiple federal elections and a failure to return a mailed address confirmation form. The SAVE VOTERS Act would amend the National Voter Registration Act to clarify that a state may not use someone’s failure to vote or respond to a state notice as reason to target them for removal from voter rolls. 

In 2017, Brown helped secure tough sanctions on Russia through legislation that was, in part, a response to Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election. The leaders of the Senate and its Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and Foreign Relations Committees worked with the leadership of the House and its Foreign Affairs Committee to reach a deal. Brown helped lead the negotiations as part of his role as ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over economic and financial sanctions.  

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