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Klobuchar, Collins introduce bill boosting election cybersecurity education

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, DFL-Minn.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced legislation to secure the nation's elections by providing training to state and local election officials.

According to a news release, as adversarial nation states continue to target American elections, the jobs of election administrators has become more complex and demanding. The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019 would direct the Election Assistance Commission to provide grants in support of continuing education in election administration or cybersecurity for election officials and employees.

The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019, as written, would:

• Establish a grant program administered by the Election Assistance Commission to cover up to 75% of the cost of the yearly tuition of election officials and employees who are enrolled in an accredited certificate program for election administration or cybersecurity.

• Define eligible persons to include state or local election officials, employees of a state or local election official, or an employee of the Election Assistance Commission.

• Provide $1 million for fiscal year 2021 and such sums necessary for each fiscal year between 2022 and 2028.

Following the Department of Homeland Security's decision to designate election infrastructure as critical infrastructure, state and local election officials have become the United States' first line of defense in protecting democracy from cyberattacks. While these officials play an important role in election security, most have not received adequate training or support. In 2014, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued a report that called for more election administration training programs leading some universities to respond by establishing certificate programs in election administration. While these programs are available to election officials, there is currently no federal program to help with the cost of election administration training. Declaring that election security is national security is not enough to protect our systems from attack — the nation must devote resources to training its election officials.

"Our intelligence officials have made clear that our election systems continue to be a target for foreign adversaries," Klobuchar stated in the release. "Election security is national security and we must do everything in our power to protect our democracy from future attacks. That means making sure those that are on the front lines of administering elections have the resources and information they need to safeguard our election systems. The Invest in Our Democracy Act of 2019 would ensure that election officials have the training and resources to improve cyber-defenses ahead of future elections."

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