New: Nessel joins AGs urging U.S. Senate to take up election interference bill

Susan J. Demas

The U.S. Senate must act to protect the 2020 elections from interference, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and attorneys general from 21 states said in a letter to key U.S. Senate committee chairs this week.

Donald Trump | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

The U.S. House has passed election protections. Following Donald Trump’s statement to ABC News last week that he would accept information on political opponents from foreign governments, the U.S. House is planning to move more election security measures in coming days.

“Michigan Attorney General Nessel has been a vocal proponent of ensuring a secure and fair election system free from interference from any individual or foreign power,” Nessel spokesman Dan Olson told the Advance. “The multi-state letter she joined expresses significant concerns as it relates to the persistent threats our election system faces and urges Congress to promptly take action ahead of the 2020 elections.”

Olson noted that “while the state has taken some preventative measures, the attorney general believes there is more that can be done nationwide to safeguard our election infrastructure and restore trust in our system.”

Dana Nessel, March 22, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

However, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has dismissed such election security legislation, tarring virtually everything supported by Democrats as “socialism” and embracing the nickname “Grim Reaper,” a nod to his commitment to kill any legislation passed in the U.S. House by refusing to allow it to be voted on in the Senate.

In their letter on Tuesday, the attorneys general wrote, “Intelligence officials and the Department of Justice continue to warn that our election systems have been a target for foreign adversaries and that those same adversaries are currently working to undermine the upcoming elections.

“The Special Counsel’s Report concludes that Russia interfered in our elections in a ‘sweeping and systematic fashion,’” the letter continues. “Russia successfully breached election systems in Florida and the Department of Homeland Security is reviewing computers used in North Carolina after the state experienced irregularities on Election Day. In addition, documents leaked by the National Security Agency show that hackers working for Russian military intelligence installed malware on a voting systems software company used in eight states.”

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The AGs ask for additional election security funding for states and localities to upgrade election equipment, systems and databases. They also want the establishment of cybersecurity and audit standards for election systems.

And they reiterate support for the Secure Elections Act, bipartisan U.S. Senate legislation that was first introduced in 2017 that would help states get rid of paperless voting and mandate improved audits of elections results.

Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson is editor of the Nevada Current, a sister publication of the Michigan Advance. He has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.
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Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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