What's the best way to prevent more high-tech online Russian interference in the 2020 election? Millions of sheets of good old-fashioned paper.
That's what most of the Democratic senators running for president are signaling by proposing legislation Wednesday to require the use of hand-marked paper ballots in all federal elections – ideally starting with their own next year.
When Kamala Harris of California was asked on ABC's "The View" why paper ballots were the best method to ensure election security, her response was simple: "Because Russia can't hack a piece of paper."
Thirteen senators introduced the bill Wednesday. All are Democrats, and five of them are running for the White House, a virtual guarantee the measure will go nowhere in the Republican-majority Senate.
In addition, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the presidential aspirant who has power over election administration legislation as the top Democrat on the Rules and Administration Committee, has her own ideas for bolstering election security and did not sign on to this bill. Neither did Michael Bennet of Colorado. The presidential candidates who did were Harris, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
In addition to the paper ballot mandate, the bill would ban Internet, Wi-Fi and cellular connections for voting machines. The Department of Homeland Security would also have the authority for the first time to set minimum security standards at each stage in the voting process. And state and local governments would be given $500 million to buy up-to-par ballot scanning machines, with an additional $250 million allocated for ballot-marking machines for voters with disabilities.
States would also be reimbursed by the federal government for any expenses incurred for post-election audits or ballot printing, and states would be required to conduct audits after all federal elections to detect any cyberhacks.
The principal sponsor, Ron Wyden of Oregon, says he's already secured endorsements from the League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center for Justice, Protect Democracy, Public Knowledge, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fair Fight Action, the group created by Stacey Abrams after she narrowly lost the governor's race in Georgia last fall.