The Secure Elections Act, S. 2593, which is expected to be marked up by the Senate Rules Committee later this month, has been freshly amended to require states to have a cyber response and communication plan in place as a precondition to receiving Federal grants to support election security and election technology modernization.

The latest amendment to the bipartisan bill also would require the Federal government to provide templates for states to use when developing their response and communication plans.

“Concerningly, backend election systems–including voter registration databases, ballot creation systems, voting machine configuration systems, absentee processing and reporting and tabulation software–are increasingly vulnerable and have been compromised by both private and state actors,” Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in July. “The Secure Elections Act helps better safeguard our systems while reaffirming the leadership role states play in administering Federal elections, and I urge my colleagues to support this critical legislation to protect future elections,” he said.

The bill was initially introduced in March by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. The legislation would streamline cybersecurity information-sharing between Federal intelligence agencies and state election agencies and protect against threats posed by foreign adversaries.

Among other measures, the legislation seeks to provide security clearances to state election officials and provide support for state election cybersecurity infrastructure. It’s also gaining support in the House with a companion bill being introduced earlier this month by Reps. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Jim Hines, D-Conn., and Terri Sewell, D-Ala.

“Election security is national security. Our intelligence community has confirmed time and time again that Russia interfered in the 2016 election and that they are working to do it again. Congress must take action to prevent this kind of foreign interference in our electoral process,” Klobuchar said in July.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.