June 26 (UPI) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, outlined a plan Tuesday to protect polling places from hacking and voter disenfranchisement.
The Massachusetts Democrat said that there has been “too little” done to protect democracy three years after the Russian government tried to infiltrate state election systems and an election equipment vendor. Russian military intelligence also sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 email addresses to try to probe or infiltrate voting databases. They successfully broke into several voter registration databases.
“Our elections should be as secure as Fort Knox,” Warren said in a Medium post outlining her plan. “But instead they’re less secure than your Amazon account.”
“They’re under-resourced and undermined by partisan and racist officials who try to stop people from exercising their right to vote,” she added in a tweet. “We need to protect our democracy — and I’ve got a plan for that.”
Warren said that some weaknesses include outdated voting machines, paperless machines leaving no paper trail behind to verify counts, some states not requiring post-election audits, 10 states not providing cybersecurity training to election officials and confusion with varying ballot design issues.
She said that these issues can be addressed under her plan, which calls for Congress to exercise its constitutional power to regulate the “times, places, and manner” of federal elections. Voter disenfranchisement through voter purging, gerrymandering and other practices that make it harder to vote can also be addressed through Congress’ power to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to prevent voting discrimination and the power to grant money to states to meet federal standards.
“The federal government will replace every voting machine in the country with state-of-the-art equipment and require a uniform federal ballot,” under her plan, Warren said. “And we will lock all federal voting technology systems behind a security firewall like it’s Fort Knox.”
Warren said federal elections would also get federal security and she would ease access to the ballot by making Election Day a holiday and mandating same-day registration for federal elections. She would also require independent redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering and ban voter purges, only allowing a voter to be removed if the voter requests it or there is evidence of a legitimate reason to remove them such as death, change of address or loss of eligibility to vote.
The plan would cost about $20 billion over 10 years, including $15 billion for election administration and about $5 billion in election security, which she said could be fully paid for by revenue generated from her plan to create an “ultra-millionaire tax” on Americans with a net worth of $50 million or more.
Warren is among more than two dozen Democrats seeking the nomination to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. The first Democratic Party debates are set for Wednesday and Thursday in Miami.