Wyden Bill to Require Paper Ballots, Strengthen Election Security Gains Support of Schatz, Booker, Blumenthal, Major Voting Rights Groups

Washington, D.C. – In a show of growing momentum to tackle threats to American election systems, U.S. Sen Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today announced the addition of Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., as cosponsors to his bill to strengthen election security and require paper ballots, as well as endorsement for the bill by two major voting rights groups.

The Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act of 2018 requires the use of paper ballots and “risk-limiting” audits for all federal elections, ensuring that election results have not been changed by hackers or foreign governments.

Americans are sick and tired of inaction to protect the foundation of our democracy from cyberattacks and foreign adversaries,” Wyden said. “This support from my colleagues is a sign that there is growing momentum in Congress and across the country to make paper ballots the law of the land, and confront the threats posed to our federal election systems.”

“Protecting our elections from cyberattacks isn’t complicated,” Schatz said. “Every state should move back to using paper ballots. It’s that simple.”

The threat of foreign interference in our elections is real and it is ongoing,” Booker said. “We need to be doing everything possible to safeguard our democracy from attack, and using paper ballots and risk-limiting audits in federal elections is a simple and straightforward way to help protect our election systems from cyberattacks by foreign adversaries.”

I am proud to cosponsor the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act to require paper records and audits—two simple and secure measures—for all federal elections,” Blumenthal said. “The intelligence community has made it clear that the Russian government sought to exploit our vulnerabilities in 2016, and continue to do so. Just earlier this month at the DEF CON security conference, researchers demonstrated that our elections systems remain at risk and open to malicious hackers.  The most fundamental component of our democracy cannot be left defenseless against those who wish to undermine us. With less than 80 days before Americans go to the polls, Congress must pass this common sense and effective plan to protect the integrity of our elections.”

The introduction of the PAVE Act comes as momentum is growing for the use of paper ballots in federal elections, nationwide. Last year, Wyden introduced the Vote-By-Mail Act, which would expand Oregon-style vote-by-mail nationwide, knocking down mounting obstacles that voters face across the country when trying to cast their ballots.

Wyden also announced the endorsement of the PAVE Act by the Brennan Center Democracy Program, and Color of Change.

Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director, Brennan Center Democracy Program:

“Our democracy works best when our elections are free and fair, and when every eligible voice is heard. The PAVE Act would require that all states take two common-sense steps to ensure that our elections are secure: mandating paper backups for every vote, and requiring that those backups be reviewed through rigorous, risk limiting audits. Together these steps would greatly increase the integrity and security of American elections.”

Brandi Collins-Dexter, Senior Campaign Director, Color of Change:

The right to vote and participate in shaping the future of one’s country is a core value of any stable democracy. Everyone should be able to trust that their vote will be counted yet there is a long history of that being compromised, with limited front end protections and no post-election reconciliation. Those hardest hit by flaws in our electoral process are the people who are the backbone of our nation- communities of color, people with low mobility, youth and people in low-income districts. The Protecting American Votes and Elections Act is a step in the right direction towards building faith in our democratic systems and processes by mandating paper ballots and post-election audits for federal elections.

The bill has been endorsed by several of the nation’s top cyber and election security experts, in addition to the grassroots voting rights group Common Cause, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Learn more about the need for paper ballots here.

Additional cosponsors of the PAVE Act include Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Edward Markey, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.

A web version of this release is available here.