MURPHY STATEMENT ON ELECTION SECURITY AHEAD OF 2020

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday urged Senate action on critical election security measures ahead of 2020 in a joint press call with U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-Md.). This comes just as the U.S. Departments of Justice, Defense, Homeland Security, National Intelligence, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, and Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a joint statement on election security and the host of malicious foreign actors seeking to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions: 

“It is very scary to me that election security has become a political issue. This didn't used to be something that only Democrats cared about. For my entire political lifetime, Republicans and Democrats worked together on trying to make sure that voters had faith that our elections were fair and secure,” Murphy said. 

Murphy continued: “FBI Director Wray has made it very clear the Russians are still actively engaged in trying to interfere in American politics. But as John [Sarbanes] mentioned, it's also the North Koreans and the Iranians and other non-state actors that are trying to manipulate American politics.” 

“And it's pretty clear that the Russians in particular want to help Donald Trump be reelected. And I think we have to start asking ourselves why Republicans aren't willing to lift a finger to do anything significant, beyond throw a few dollars at this problem, to erect real barriers to this foreign interference,” Murphy concluded. 

A full transcript of Murphy’s remarks are below. 

“It is very scary to me that election security has become a political issue. This didn't used to be something that only Democrats cared about. For my entire political lifetime, Republicans and Democrats worked together on trying to make sure that voters had faith that our elections were fair and secure. 

“Today, access to the ballot box and the security of our elections are not priorities for the Republican Party. And I think that's really, really frightening for the future American democracy. 

“Representative Sarbanes mentioned that Senator McConnell has a number of election security bills sitting on the Senate floor that he could call up at any time. It's not as if the Senate is busy doing anything else. We barely do anything in the Senate these days. We come in for a couple hours a day and we vote on political appointments and judges and then we go home for four or five-day weekends. It's ridiculous, especially given the fact that we know that there are a panoply of foreign actors that are chomping at the bit to interfere and manipulate the 2020 elections. 

“Russia's at the top of the list. FBI Director Wray has made it very clear the Russians are still actively engaged in trying to interfere in American politics. But as John [Sarbanes] mentioned, it's also the North Koreans and the Iranians and other non-state actors that are trying to manipulate American politics. 

“So, in the Senate we haven't just waited for Senator McConnell to bring up the bills that are pending from the House. Two weeks ago, a number of my colleagues went down to the Senate floor and requested that bipartisan legislation, introduced by senators, be brought up for debate. If McConnell doesn't want to bring up bills already passed by the House, then let's bring up bills that have been introduced by United States Senators. 

“Those include a piece of legislation by Mark Warner that will require campaigns to report to federal authorities any contacts that they have with foreign nationals that are seeking to interfere in presidential elections. A piece of legislation by Senator Klobuchar that would require backup paper ballots, which all the experts agree are best practice for safe elections and provide new elections security grants. The bipartisan Honest Ads Act which would enhance disclosure requirements for online political advertising. These are just a few of the pieces of legislation that Senate Democrats went down to the floor and asked permission to bring up for debate. 

“Every single effort to bring these bills up for debate was blocked. We weren't asking for them to be passed. We were simply asking for them to be brought up for a discussion and Senate Republicans shut down every attempt to do so. 

“We have to start asking why Republicans are so uninterested in election interference. Is it because they think that the interference from foreign actors helps them? I hope that's not the answer to the question. But at some point, you have to believe in Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation is often the right answer. 

“And it's pretty clear that the Russians in particular want to help Donald Trump be reelected. And I think we have to start asking ourselves why Republicans aren't willing to lift a finger to do anything significant, beyond throw a few dollars at this problem, to erect real barriers to this foreign interference. 

“So Representative Sarbanes, thanks for letting me join in, in this call. Privilege to work with you.” 

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