Q94: What is your plan to protect our democracy from foreign governments from interfering in elections in the United States– including cyberattacks, disinformation, tampering with election systems, etc.?
Biden: Protecting our elections from foreign interference must be a high priority. The attempts to interfere in our elections by the Russian government are an attack on our sovereignty. As president, I will take the following actions:
First, unlike Donald Trump’s blatant invitations to foreign powers to interfere in our elections, I have a message for any foreign government that tries to do so: there will be consequences. I will treat foreign interference as an adversarial act that will undermine the bilateral relationship between the United States and that country’s government.
Second, we must protect our democratic processes against cyber intrusions and related disinformation campaigns. Communities of color have been the targets of — and disproportionately impacted by — disinformation, which, when combined with other voter suppression tactics, have a corrosive impact on election integrity. This is a shared responsibility between all levels of government and the private sector. I will expand the capability of federal agencies to support state and local governments in defending agains t cyber attacks, which are often used to fuel disinformation campaigns, including by deploying additional teams foron-the-ground technical assistance.
As a larger point, the United States should be a leader in encouraging other nations to adopt principles of responsible state behavior in the cyber domain. As president, I will re-energize efforts to establish comprehensive cyber norms that disavow attacks on civilian infrastructure, promote international cooperation, and support cyber incident emergency response and remediation actions for nations impacted by malicious cyber attacks. Cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure should be taken as seriously as any other act of sabotage or war.
Third, we must modernize our election infrastructure, and protect it. Many states are moving in the right direction, replacing out-of-date and insecure paperless voting systems, and implementing strong audits of the ballots. But the progress is not uniform and federal legislation will accelerate the process to ensure that election administrators adopt best security practices. I will press for legislation that bans internet and WiFi connections from voting machine hardware. Legislation should also require that federal funds be used only to purchase electronic voting machines that produce auditable paper ballots, and effective audits of those ballots, so that we can reliably look back to the true vote count.
Fourth, I applaud the professionals at the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation who have been taking this issue seriously. I will expand the reach of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies to bring cyber criminals to justice and will ensure that rogue states face consequences for malicious cyber activities.
Finally, all candidates must pledge not to use disinformation. I served as a founding member of a Trans-Atlantic Commission on Election Integrity – a group that came together to fight back against Russia’s attacks on Western democracies. The Commission asked politicians across Europe and North America to sign a pledge committing to transparency in campaign finance and to reject the use of fabricated or hacked material — a pledge I signed early in my campaign; I call on every person running for president to do the same.
Bloomberg: In November, voters will turn up to around 100,000 polling places spread out over thousands of voting districts. Russia exploited this fragmented system to interfere in the last presidential election. Mike will make protecting our democracy a priority from day one. He’ll require that voting equipment is up to date, get states the security resources they need, and ensure the federal government is prepared for any risks on Election Day. Mike will establish a continual funding stream from the Election Assistance Commission to help every state. He’ll impose safeguards to ensure these resources get into the right hands and are used for the right purposes. And he’ll initiate a major effort to ensure that all election workers have cybersecurity training. Our democracy is too important to leave at risk. Mike Bloomberg will ensure that our election system works – and that every vote counts.
Buttigeig: Our democracy must be protected and every vote must count. That begins with ensuring the sanctity of our elections. As President, I will direct our agencies to drastically increase our support to states for election security, including the best teams to help with testing resilience and continuing education for state officials on cybersecurity and election administration. I will work with Congress to pass legislation requiring states to appoint cybersecurity coordinators, and sign a bipartisan bill that requires a paper trail in all of our elections.
We also saw during the 2016 election how deceptive voter suppression and misinformation can be targeted at African Americans in especially harmful ways. I will work to close the digital ad loophole, including by requiring clear disclosure of the purchaser of online political ads and any entities they are acting on behalf of. I will also work with Congress to require large digital platforms to keep a public repository of ads, which must include granular and comprehensive targeting information that go beyond what most platforms currently provide. It’s time that we know what messages candidates and their supporters are sending, who is paying for them, and to whom they’re being sent. In addition, my administration will engage with social media and other online platforms to advance new tools and best practices, including appropriate terms of service, for limiting online disinformation. My administration will also push for new public- private partnerships and provide greater federal funding to develop tools that identify malicious actors and behavior online — including the use of falsified identities, problematic use of bots, and extremist behavior.
These problems are not American problems alone; they are global problems. As such, I will engage with international partners that are grappling with these issues. We must increase information sharing between countries, given that patterns of interference in one election are often replicated in another.
De La Fuente: We must lead by example. The United States leads the world at doing exactly what we complain about. Upon election, I will work to bring all surveillance state nations together to create ground rules for moving forward as trusted partners.
Klobuchar: Senator Klobuchar has been a leader in the fight to protect our elections from foreign interference, including by securing $380 million in election security funds in 2018 so states could improve their election infrastructure and protect their election systems from cyberattacks. She leads bipartisan legislation in the Senate that would protect our elections with paper ballots and post-election audits, as well as the bipartisan legislation that would promote accountability and transparency for political ads on the internet. As President, she would push to pass this legislation and also work to take on disinformation campaigns and foreign efforts to influence our elections, build U.S. cyber expertise to defend our elections, and fortify state election infrastructure against cyberattacks. Read more about Senator Klobuchar’s plan to safeguard our elections, strengthen our democracy and restore trust in government here: https://medium.com/@AmyforAmerica/senator-klobuchars-plan-to-safeguard-our-elections-strengthen-our-democracy-and-restore-trust- in-ca2360918c7d
Sanders: Yes. Bernie is a proud cosponsor of the For the People Act and will sign it into law as President. This bill works to increase election security by establishing a national security strategy, supporting states as they secure their election systems, protecting voter rolls, as well as other provisions for strengthening cyber security.
After our intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, including with thousands of paid ads on Facebook, the New York Times now reports that Russia likely represents the biggest threat of election meddling in 2020, including through disinformation campaigns, promoting hatred, hacking into voting systems, and by exploiting the political divisions sewn by Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, has shown again and again his total disinterest in taking even basic steps to stand up to Russian interference.
It is nothing short of reckless for Facebook to continue enabling and profiting from election interference done through advertising that contains lies, falsehoods, and misleading information. Facebook can help us come together as people despite our differences, but Facebook and other tech companies have become so powerful and so greedy that they seem willing to allow foreign powers like Russia continue to meddle in our elections so long as it helps their bottom line.
Steyer: The US election system is highly vulnerable. Mitch McConnell blocked two House-passed measures (the For the People Act in March, a sweeping voting reform bill, and then the SAFE Act specifically around election security in June) that aimed to strengthen election security. The timing came shortly after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned of the continued threat of foreign powers interfering in US elections. The GOP argues that Congress has already responded to election security needs for the 2020 election cycle. We need to ensure resilience within our voting and election systems by taking necessary actions to prevent further interference. Paper ballots are a proven way to ensure ballot security, as well as passing the
Warren: Our elections should be as secure as Fort Knox. State and local officials take their jobs seriously, but they often don’t have the resources to secure their elections. Even then, it’s hard for local officials to defend against attacks from foreign governments. I have a plan to strengthen our democracy and secure our elections from threats, foreign and domestic. Under my plan, federal elections will get state-of-the-art federal machines, federal ballots, and federal security. The federal government will replace insecure and outdated systems with hand-marked, voter-verified paper ballot machines. To prevent hanging-chads and other confusing ballot designs, we’ll have uniform federal ballots all across the country that are based on easy-to-use design principles. The federal government will also provide every polling location with accessible ballot machines for people with disabilities and conduct research into how to improve voting security and accessibility for all people, including those with disabilities and people for whom English isn’t their primary language. Through a new independent Secure Democracy Administration, which will replace the Election Assistance Commission and be staffed by civil servants, the federal government will manage the cybersecurity aspects of elections and develop additional security procedures for election administration and the end-to-end handling of ballots. States will implement these additional security measures, and will receive technical assistance and training from the Secure Democracy Administration. In addition, states will be required to conduct risk-limiting audits prior to certifying elections — and we’ll have independent oversight of those audits. Anyone who seeks to challenge and defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election must be fully prepared to take on the full array of disinformation that foreign actors and people in and around the Trump campaign will use to divide Democrats, suppress Democratic votes, and erode the standing of the Democratic nominee. That’s why I’ve pledged to fight disinformation aimed at my campaign, my opponents, and voters as a candidate — and to holding tech companies responsible for the spread of disinformation. I’ll push to create civil and criminal penalties for knowingly disseminating false information about when and how to vote in U.S. elections, reinstate the position of cybersecurity coordinator at the National Security Council, and establish rules around information and data sharing to ensure platforms can identify sources of disinformation while respective individuals privacy.