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Cyberspace Solarium Commission Statement on Passing Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Our Election Security

Press Release

Washington, D.C. (October 29, 2020) - U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), co-chairs of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), today released the following statement after the Republican Party of Wisconsin announced that hackers have stolen $2.3 million from the organization:

“Earlier this year, the Cyberspace Solarium Commission warned in their official report that our country is at serious risk not only from a catastrophic cyberattack but from millions of daily intrusions disrupting everything from financial transactions to the inner workings of our electoral infrastructure. Unfortunately, just today, Americans learned that the Republican Party of Wisconsin was the victim of hackers, who stole over $2 million from the Party’s accounts. This is not a partisan issue: the same report revealed that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has likewise been targeted by hackers more than 800 times. We must improve our cybersecurity to collectively defend our shared electoral infrastructure.”

"The warning signs are flashing red. Congress urgently needs to come together and pass the bipartisan recommendations provided by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission report that will strengthen our national critical infrastructure by improving public-private collaboration and the resilience of our electoral systems before it is too late."

Attacks on election processes and other democratic institutions are designed to damage American legitimacy and weaken the nation. Absent significant reform, adversaries will continue to target U.S. elections through complex cyber operations designed to steal sensitive data, spread misinformation, and rob organizations of millions of dollars. Congress should improve the structure and sustain the funding of the Election Assistance Commission (CSC Report Recommendation 3.4), which will both enable it to increase its operational capacity to support states and localities in defense of the digital election infrastructure, as well as ensure the widest use of voter-verifiable, auditable, and paper-based voting systems.

Moreover, while Congress has already taken some initial steps through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), Congress should also codify into law Executive Order 13848, “Executive Order on Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election” (CSC Report Recommendation 2.1.5). In keeping with the Solarium Commission's strategy of layered deterrence, the government must be able to use all instruments of statecraft to cultivate resilience to such attacks, as well as identify and punish hackers with speed and agility when such malicious activity occurs—especially in the context of election security.