Speed Reads

election security

Mitch McConnell blocked 2 election security bills in the warning-packed 36 hours since Mueller's testimony

In the past 36 hours, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller emphasized that Russia is still working diligently to meddle in U.S. elections, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Russia and other foreign adversaries are finding new ways to exploit U.S. election vulnerabilities, and the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report that found Russia had targeted all 50 states in 2016 and "top election vulnerabilities remained" in the 2018 elections and continue to this day, though progress has been made.

In those same 36 hours, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has blocked two bills to shore up election security, one already passed by the House, calling them unnecessary reactions to a partisan Russia election meddling "conspiracy theory."

McConnell, who also blocked an election security bill ahead of the 2018 elections, argued that the federal government is doing and spending enough to ensure election security. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called congressional inaction a "disgrace" and slammed McConnell, reminding him of Mueller's warning that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election "as we sit here." Other Democrats were similarly critical of McConnell, notably Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), who wrote a Senate Intelligence Committee minority report urging more action.

But not only Wyden.

The Senate Intelligence Committee encouraged states, which run elections, to "take urgent steps to replace outdated and vulnerable voting systems," specifically those with outdated software and the thousands of local election jurisdictions using machines that don't leave a paper trail to audit votes. "More money may be needed," the committee advised. Even if Congress acted now, it's not clear states could make the recommended substantial upgrades before the 2020 election, much less primary voting that begins in six months.