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.
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.
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RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.
Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?
To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."
The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.
The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.
Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.
While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."