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The Honest Ads Act, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Mark Warner, would directly counter the tactics used throughout the 2016 election that led to more than 126 million Americans consuming disinformation. writes McGehee

Foreign interference in our elections is an American crisis

McGehee is executive director of Issue One, a cross-partisan political reform group. (It is incubating, but journalistically independent from, The Fulcrum.) She leads its Don't Mess With US project to stop foreign interference in our elections.

The debate around election security has been fierce and full of misinformation in recent days. Now that it's circled all the way back around to the cable news and pundit class, it is time to clear the air around what's quickly devolved into a partisan, points-scoring exercise.

Foreign interference is a national crisis, and stopping foreign interference is about the integrity of our elections, not political wins.

Remember: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others don't see political party; they see weaknesses and vulnerabilities to exploit and divide our nation. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and we need a strong and unified response because they are working to weaken America as we speak. This impacts all of us.


So here are the facts. More than 120 million Americans saw disinformation spread by the Russians in 2016. They targeted election systems in all 50 states and hacked the voting databases in Florida and Illinois, stole personal information on 500,000 U.S. voters and were positioned to manipulate voter registration data. Foreign cyberattacks undermined candidates in both parties in the past election cycle — Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Hillary Clinton and more — and foreign operatives tried to impersonate candidates for office. The heads of the intelligence and national security communities have repeatedly emphasized that foreign attacks are stemming from Russia and other countries including China, Iran, and North Korea.

While some states are moving ahead with their own election security efforts, at least 10 secretaries of state, from both parties, have been pleading for more money to help protect their election systems in 2020 and beyond. That's because while they don't need Washington telling them how to run their elections, these states want more resources and training. Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, previewed this problem for a House Appropriations subcommittee when he said this of the Russian government: "I know what they did in '16. I know what they tried to do in '18. What will they do in 2020? That's what keeps me up at night."

Republicans and Democrats in Congress get this. There are a handful of bipartisan bills in the House and Senate, sponsored by members of the Intelligence committees, that would serve to directly plug loopholes in our elections that foreign actors are looking to exploit in 2020 and beyond: The Secure Elections Act would help better safeguard our political system while reaffirming each state's role in administering federal elections; the Honest Ads Act would directly counter the tactics used throughout the 2016 election that led to more than 126 million Americans consuming disinformation; the DETER Act would sanction countries found to be interfering in our elections; the Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act would modernize and enforce lobbying laws on the books and impose real penalties for rule breakers; the Shell Company Abuse Act would stop foreigners from using tax loopholes to engage in illegal political activity.

These are just five important steps Congress could take immediately to prevent foreign disruption in our political system.

There is no silver bullet to election security but we have to take action now. That's why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a staunch opponent of security measures that would "federalize" elections, has begun to change his tune and has expressed openness to compromise. That is positive.

This is not about 2016. It's about 2020, 2022 and every election beyond. No foreign power should be able to interfere with our elections and how we choose our leaders. This is America and we must protect our sacred electoral process. It's time for Congress to place the needs of the country over allegiance to their political parties.

We’re all about the issues that have broken American democracy — and efforts to make governments work again for you, your family and your friends.
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The House on Friday passed legislation to restore a provision of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013. The bill would require advance approval of voting changes in states with a history of discrimination. Here President Lyndon Johnson shares one of the pens he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Passage of historic voting rights law takes a partisan turn

In a partisan vote on an issue that once was bipartisan, House Democrats pushed through legislation Friday that would restore a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act passed the House 228-187, with all Democrats voting for the bill and all but one Republican, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, voting against it.

The bill faces virtually no chance of being considered in the Republican-controlled Senate.

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Big Picture

TV stations fight FCC over political ad disclosure

Broadcasters are pushing back against the Federal Communications Commission after the agency made clear it wants broader public disclosure regarding TV political ads.

With the 2020 election less than a year away and political TV ads running more frequently, the FCC issued a lengthy order to clear up any ambiguities licensees of TV stations had regarding their responsibility to record information about ad content and sponsorship. In response, a dozen broadcasting stations sent a petition to the agency, asking it to consider a more narrow interpretation of the law.

This dispute over disclosure rules for TV ads comes at a time when digital ads are subject to little regulation. Efforts to apply the same rules for TV, radio and print advertising across the internet have been stymied by Congress's partisanship and the Federal Election Commission being effectively out of commission.

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1952 Eisenhower Answers America

On TV, political ads are regulated – but online, anything goes

Lightman is a professor of digital media and marketing at Carnegie Mellon University.

With the 2020 election less than a year away, Facebook is under fire from presidential candidates, lawmakers, civil rights groups and even its own employees to provide more transparency on political ads and potentially stop running them altogether.

Meanwhile, Twitter has announced that it will not allow any political ads on its platform.

Modern-day online ads use sophisticated tools to promote political agendas with a high degree of specificity.

I have closely studied how information propagates through social channels and its impact on political messaging and advertising.

Looking back at the history of mass media and political ads in the national narrative, I think it's important to focus on how TV advertising, which is monitored by the Federal Communications Commission, differs fundamentally with the world of social media.

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