U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Ranking Member Committee on Homeland Security

February 14, 2018

Election Security Task Force Releases Final Report & Recommendations

The Congressional Task Force on Election Security, chaired by House Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA) released its FINAL REPORT including ten specific recommendations on what the federal government and states can and should be doing to secure our nation’s elections. Russia’s unprecedented assault on the country’s elections in 2016 – including targeting 21 states’ voting systems – exposed serious national security vulnerabilities to our election infrastructure – which includes voting machines and voter registration databases. The Members of the Task Force also introduced legislation, the Election Security Act (H.R. 5011), to implement the recommendations of the report.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement with the report:

“It has been over a year since Russia’s campaign to interfere in our elections and undermine our democracy was uncovered, and yet neither the Trump White House nor Republicans in the House have done anything of substance to stop it from happening again.  This inaction to an attack on our democracy should be appalling to all citizens.  We know if we do nothing to protect elections - the very root of our democracy - Russia will do the same again.  We formed this Task Force so to investigate the vulnerabilities in our voting systems and create common sense solutions to close any security gaps. States cannot fight sophisticated adversaries like Russia alone. It is time for Congress to act to institute reforms and provide substantial assistance.  With the next federal election less than nine months away, we cannot afford to waste any more time.”

Congressman Brady added the following statement releasing the report:

“There is no doubt that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and targeted 21 states’ voting systems.  And we can expect them to return. The Election Security Task Force has been hearing from state and local officials over the past seven months. They know they need to strengthen their voting systems, and they need Congress to act. But Republicans have been asleep at the wheel. To date, Republicans have not even held a single full-committee hearing on the security of our nation’s elections. The first primary election of 2018 is on February 20 – only 6 days away.  The general election is in under nine months. We do not have a minute to waste.”

Report Recommendations:

      • Congress should immediately make the nearly $400 million authorized in the Help America Vote Act available to states to replace aging, less secure voting machines with paper ballots.
      • Congress should provide ongoing funding to states to secure their IT systems and voter databases, train personnel on cybersecurity, and end the crisis-to-crisis approach to addressing vulnerabilities in elections.
      • Congress should adequately fund the Department of Homeland Security and the Election Assistance Commission so they can properly fulfill their mission to assist states in securing their election infrastructure.
      • States should require voting machine vendors follow cybersecurity standards and notify of potential breaches.
      • The Federal government should develop a National Strategy to Counter Efforts to Undermine Democratic Institutions.
      • The Intelligence Community should produce election security threat assessments six months before federal elections.
      • DHS should maintain the designation of election infrastructure as a critical infrastructure subsector.
      • States should conduct risk-limiting audits to determine vote accuracy after elections.
      • States should prioritize cybersecurity training for their election officials, IT staff, and poll workers and the federal government must assist in this effort.
      • DHS should expedite the clearance process for the chief election official in every state and establish channels for sharing relevant threat and intelligence information.

The Congressional Task Force on Election Security was created in June 2017 under the direction of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi by Co-Chairs Thompson and Brady.  Membership of the Task Force also includes Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. James R. Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-LA), and Rep. Val Demings (D-FL).

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Brady) Peter Whippy at 202-225-1943


As Introduced on February 14, 2018
by Reps. Bennie G. Thompson and Robert A. Brady and co-sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, James R. Langevin, Cedric L. Richmond, and Val Demings

A product of oversight and outreach by the CONGRESSIONAL TASK FORCE ON ELECTION SECURITY, this bill addresses the lessons learned from the 2016 election about the risks to election infrastructure by prioritizing critical assistance to States and election administrators to protect their systems. Below is a summary of the key provisions.

Authorizes a $1 billion Election Assistance Commission (EAC) grant program to assist in securing election infrastructure.

Election officials can use this grant provided to replace aging voting machines with voter-marked paper ballot voting systems. Additionally, States can use these grants to help cover the costs of hiring IT staff, cybersecurity training, security and risk vulnerability assessments, and other steps to secure election infrastructure.

Provides States with sustainment funding to help maintain election infrastructure.

Seeks to ensure States can maintain security gains by providing each State with $1 per voter who participated in the most recent election to maintain election security.

Establishes a $20 million grant program for States to use in implementing risk-limiting audits.

Establishes a new $20 million grant program for States to access risk-limiting audits, a critical tool to ensuring the integrity of elections. These audits, which involve hand counting a certain number of ballots and using statistical methods to determine the accuracy of the original vote tally, are effective at detecting any incorrect election outcomes, whether caused by a cyberattack or something more mundane like a programming error.

Directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand assistance to chief State election officials.

Requires DHS to expedite security clearances for State election officials in order to provide timely threat information and commence a security risk and vulnerability of a State’s election systems within 90 days of receiving the request.

Requires Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to conduct regular threat assessments.

At least 180 days prior to a general election, the DNI would be required to complete a full-scope assessment of threats to election infrastructure.

Enhances protections for U.S. democratic institutions.

Directs the President, within a year of enactment, to issue a national strategy to protect U.S. democratic institutions against cyber attacks, influence operations, disinformation campaigns, and other activities that could undermine the security and integrity of such institutions. Additionally, it directs the establishment of a bipartisan commission to develop recommendations, drawing upon lessons learned from European allies, to counter such efforts.

Fosters accountability for election technology vendors.

Limit State expenditures on goods and services with grant monies provided under this Act to purchases from “qualified election infrastructure vendors”; EAC, in coordination with DHS, establishes the criteria for achieving such status, which includes maintaining IT infrastructure in a manner consistent with the best practices provided by EAC and DHS and agreeing to report any known or suspected security incidents involving election infrastructure. Additionally, it creates a certification program for voter registration software.

Creates a new DHS election infrastructure innovation grant program.

Authorizes $6.25 million annually, for DHS to award grants for research and development on improving the security, quality, reliability, accuracy, accessibility and affordability of election infrastructure.