Senators pushing for better security for ’18 election season


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Government efforts to protect state and local elections from Russian cyberattacks in 2016 didn’t go far enough, leaders of the Senate intelligence committee said Tuesday as the panel released recommendations to safeguard against foreign meddling in the 2018 primary season that’s already underway.

Federal warnings last time did not provide enough information or in some cases go to the right people in state and local governments, the committee’s leaders said, though they reiterated that there was no evidence votes were changed. Russian agents targeted election systems in 21 states ahead of the 2016 general election, the Homeland Security Department has said, and top U.S. intelligence officials have said they’ve seen indications Russian agents are preparing a new round of election interference this year.

The committee’s recommendations include urging states to make sure voting machines have paper audit trails and aren’t capable of being connected to the internet. Senators also are pushing for better communication among the various U.S. intelligence agencies and federal, state and local governments about cyber threats and vulnerabilities in computer systems.

The committee’s recommendations preview an election security report expected to be released in full in the coming weeks. It is the first of four reports the panel plans to write in its wide-ranging investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, released the recommendations ahead of a hearing today examining attempted hacks on state election systems in 2016 and the federal and state response.

The proposals, in large part, echo those made by cybersecurity experts and address concerns raised by state and local officials. Even with Republican and Democratic support, it’s unclear if the recommendations will translate into legislation.

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