Democrats on Friday released a huge reform bill aimed at ensuring voting rights, strengthening ethics in the executive branch, improving transparency in campaign financing, and bolstering the security of America's election systems.
The 571-page For the People Act (H.R. 1) includes two bills previously introduced by Democrats in 2018 aimed at improving financial support for election systems, including cyber security standards for vendors of voting systems, directing the Department of Homeland Security to assess threats to election systems, and creating a "bug bounty" program for election systems.
"It's important for what it does, it's important for the confidence it gives people that their voices and their concerns are heard," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a media event on Friday about H.R. 1. "So, restoring the peoples' faith in government is really our agenda."
The two earlier bills introduced in the 115th Congress and now resurrected in the 116th Congress as part of H.R. 1 are the Election Security Act (H.R. 5011), which was originally introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the Prevent Election Hacking Act (H.R. 6188) that was introduced by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.). Neither bill came up for a vote in the last Congress.
The standards proposed for vendors of election infrastructure include American ownership, use of best practices in the development and maintenance of the systems, and allowing independent security assessments by the Election Assistance Commission. The bill also requires vendors to notify the government of any cyber security incidents involving their products or services.
The legislation also requires DHS to continue to designate election infrastructure as critical. The designation was first made at the end of the Obama administration and has been maintained by the Trump administration and allows DHS to provide security assistance to state and local election officials and their systems if they request it.
Other provisions include mandatory testing of voting systems nine months before federal elections and the creation of a national commission to protect the nation's democratic institutions.