On their second day in charge of the House, Democrats debuted H.R. 1, the For The People Act, which features a wide range of election security and modernization measures, including cybersecurity standards for voting machines, an election security bug bounty program, and a requirement for online voter registration.
H.R. 1 combines multiple measures that made their way to Congress last year but did not become law, along with new provisions. Many of the election-related provisions in the new bill come from the Election Security Act and the Voter Empowerment Act, and are being reintroduced in the new session of Congress.
“It is the sense of Congress that, in light of the lessons learned from Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Federal Government should intensify its efforts to improve the security of election infrastructure in the United States, including through the use of individual, durable, paper ballots marked by the voter by hand,” the bill states.
H.R. 1 would require the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to issue election cybersecurity guidelines for states, including best practices to prevent and deter attackers. Included in the bill is a provision to provide grants to state and local governments for election security-related activities, including new machines and training. The bill also includes standards for election technology vendors to receive grant money. The EAC would be in charge of distributing grants, as well as testing election systems. To monitor EAC’s effectiveness, the bill would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to assess the impact of grants.
The bill also establishes an election bug bounty program, run by the Department of Homeland Security, as part of the Preventing Election Hacking Act of 2019 portion of the bill. H.R.1 also would mandate a national strategy from the White House for protecting election infrastructure from cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.
On the modernization side, the bill would promote online voter registration, making the practice mandatory by amending the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to include the ability to register to vote online. The bill would require states to accept e-signatures and keep applicants informed of their registration’s status.
The bill has been referred to multiple House committees for review and approval.