A bill introduced by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., on Nov. 8 would establish a new Center of Excellence (CoE) and fund elections systems research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The Election Technology Research Act of 2019 is a bipartisan effort to promote the security and modernization of voting systems nationwide ahead of the 2020 presidential election. According to a press release from Rep. Sherrill’s office, the legislation would:

  • Authorize research on election systems cybersecurity, privacy, and integrity at NIST;
  • Establish an Elections Systems CoE at NIST;
  • Direct NIST to provide technical assistance to state and local officials on election systems cybersecurity and privacy standards;
  • Require a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report to evaluate the impact of NIST’s election systems activities;
  • Authorize new elections systems research grants at NSF; and
  • Amend the Help America Vote Act’s definition of “voting systems” to include electronic poll books and voter registration systems.

“This bill will update federal laws to reflect today’s technology and encourage innovation on the state and local level to secure our election systems,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, a cosponsor of the bill.

The House Science Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, chaired by Sherrill, held an election security hearing in June 2019 to discuss the fight against technological threats that can impact elections. At the hearing, the congresswoman argued in favor of federal resources to subsidize election security.

The House bill does not appear to have a companion measure in the Senate.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.