As the November elections draw near, and Russian interference in the 2016 elections is being confirmed, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has told CBS News, “I am concerned that the Russians never left.”
Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley is a longtime advocate for protecting our country’s election infrastructure and he has always maintained that neither the federal nor state governments are doing enough about the problem. And now, as we are just four months from the midterm elections, he is continuing to forcefully speak out, trying to get people’s attention to recognize that we have a real crisis in our democracy.
Quigley says that states must take actions to protect their election processes but they are far from being prepared to do this. He said that most states don’t even recognize that they have a problem with Russian interference in their elections and therefore they are not taking steps to combat it.
In the interview with CBS he summarized what is known to date about the very significant interference efforts employed by Russia, at President Vladimir Putin’s direction during the 2016 election cycle.
According to Quigley:
“First, they attacked our election infrastructure. They hacked into somewhere between 20 and 40 state board of elections, including, in August of 2016, my own state of Illinois. They hacked and dumped emails into political parties and individuals. They weaponized social media. This is a great concern.”
Quigley said that the House appropriation of just $380 million in federal funding for new state election equipment is far from adequate to really deal with the massive problem that we have.
“The decimal was in the wrong spot,” he said. “The twelve states that currently lack an auditable paper trail on their voting machines are at the most risk. Those states that don’t have this ability frankly can’t even tell us if we’ve been hacked and how to prepare for it,” he added.
Quigley pointed out that there are thousands of entities that are involved at the precinct level in running a federal election, and “very few of them have the kind of sophistication necessary – so we’re not anywhere near where we need to be to protect them.”
He said that America’s election infrastructure is, on average, 10 to 12 years old, and must be replaced or upgraded to provide the protections and security we need.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that what the Russians did was, as a wise man said, the political equivalent of 9/11. And our response to that is probably more important and will have more profound impacts on our country going forward,” Quigley added, sounding the alarm about the need to protect our country from foreign attacks.
Right now, to protect American democracy, nothing is more important than protecting our election integrity, and thanks to neglect from our elected leaders, this is not happening. Steps must be taken immediately to prevent another disaster from occurring this November, because if they are not taken, then Vladimir Putin will have more to say about what goes on in this country than do the American people.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.