Election Security Defenses Are Stronger, Crucial Work Continues
‘We need to continue the serious work that federal, state, and local officials are engaging in every day -- work that is already yielding results. And we need to stay vigilant, because our adversaries will not stop. So I want to salute the federal, state, and local professionals who helped make last week an apparent election security success. And I urge Senate Democrats to stop blocking a bipartisan appropriations process so that we can secure hundreds of millions of dollars more for the folks o
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding election security:
“Last Tuesday was Election Day in dozens of states and localities, including my home state of Kentucky. But there was one important aspect of Election Day that didn’t get much attention: Unlike in 2016, last week’s elections were not marred to the same extent by foreign interference from our nation’s adversaries. And neither were the 2018 midterm elections last year.
“As of now, no reports of foreign intrusion into voter records. No reports of significant and successful disinformation efforts on social media or anywhere else.
“By any reasonable standard, by all available evidence, the past two elections have gone a whole lot more smoothly than 2016.
“Now, this wasn’t for lack of trying. Russia and our other adversaries have tried for decades to interfere in our politics, to undermine the confidence of the American people in our democracy. And they will not likely let up anytime soon. This fight is nowhere near over.
“But make no mistake: Our defenses are stronger.
“A massive, coordinated effort to confront this threat has brought together the Congress, the Trump administration, all 50 states, the private sector, and more than 2000 local jurisdictions. We’ve worked to address the weaknesses Russia sought to exploit during the Obama administration and proactively strengthen our defenses.
“Last week, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Acting Homeland Security Secretary, the acting DNI, and the heads of the FBI, the NSA, U.S. Cyber Command, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement:
“Quote: “Election security is a top priority… In an unprecedented level of coordination, the U.S. government is working with all 50 states and U.S. territories, local officials, and private sector partners to identify threats, broadly share information, and protect the democratic process.”
“I know my colleagues already know about these significant efforts thanks to the groundwork laid by the Intelligence Committee’s painstaking investigation. We know about it because we have provided $380 million to help modernize state election systems. Back in September, I co-sponsored an amendment in committee that will bring the total to more than $600 million.
“And we know about the progress because we’ve had a bipartisan, all-member briefing from administration experts. Senators literally broke out into applause in appreciation for what the administration was doing to protect our elections.
“This story is not finished. The crucial work continues. But the progress is undeniable. No longer is threat intelligence siloed within the federal government. This administration has moved to share vital information systematically with everyone from states and localities to social media companies.
“No longer is interference cost-free for adversaries. The administration has sanctioned and prosecuted Russians engaged in election interference, and issued an executive order that paves the way for additional sanctions on those who seek to interfere.
“The Department of Homeland Security now runs a National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center -- a physical “war room” of sorts -- on Election Day for sharing information and coordinating action.
“That’s along with an online platform that 200 jurisdictions reportedly tapped into last week.
“And long before Election Day, this administration was connecting with all 50 states and more than 2000 localities to deploy new cybersecurity tools, new training for election workers, provide threat alerts… the list goes on and on.
“Our adversaries are still at the door -- but two Election Days in a row, now, we have benefited from stronger defenses. Progress like this should earn bipartisan applause. And like I said, behind closed doors, it did.
“But in public, my Democratic colleagues have not loudly cheered these successes. Instead, they are trying to use the very serious issue of election security to re-package their long-held liberal view that Washington D.C. needs far more power over elections.
“Look, nobody really believes that all the partisan proposals from Speaker Pelosi and company are some kind of tailored response to Russian meddling. Not when they transparently serve the same goals Democrats have wanted since way before 2016.
“For goodness’ sake, the New York Times was editorializing for federalizing elections right after Election Day 2012, even when they liked the outcome. That was the same election cycle, by the way, in which President Obama mocked his Republican opponent for being too tough on Russia
“So let’s not mistake these long-held liberal policy goals with some new, targeted response to Russian meddling. Election security is too important to become a Trojan horse for ideological goals that Democrats have wanted for many years.
“We need to continue the serious work that federal, state, and local officials are engaging in every day -- work that is already yielding results. And we need to stay vigilant, because our adversaries will not stop.
“So I want to salute the federal, state, and local professionals who helped make last week an apparent election security success. And I urge Senate Democrats to stop blocking a bipartisan appropriations process so that we can secure hundreds of millions of dollars more for the folks on the front lines.”
Related Issues: Senate Democrats, National Security