See below for video from this morning of “A socially-distanced Election Security Roundtable with Directors of Elections from localities across Northern Virginia, The Center for Election Innovation & Research, New Virginia Majority, the Brennan Center for Justice, and Fair Vote.” In the discussion, Sen. Warner highlighted “three areas that I think we have to focus on”:
- “Foreign interference”
- “The basic, ongoing integrity of our election system – machines, vote totals, voter files…”
- “How this is all being scrambled with the COVID virus.”
Sen. Warner noted that the Senate Intelligence Committee will be releasing “the fifth and final volume” of a report on Russia’s interference in our 2016 elections on behalf of Trump, with “greater detail than even the Mueller report had.” In the 2020 elections, Sen. Warner said we should expect Russian interference – and possibly from China and Iran as well – yet again. According to Sen. Warner, “the best single defense against” the “Russian disinformation campaign” is “to actually have an informed American electorate.” Sen. Warner pointed out that the U.S. Senate has “not passed a single piece of legislation” – even though it’s “almost exclusively bipartisan” and “would have gotten 80-90 votes in almost every case” – to better protect our elections. That includes disclosure requirements for those advertising on social media, sanctions against foreign actors who intervene in our elections, and an obligation for U.S. candidates to contact the FBI if they’re approached by a foreign actor intending to interfere with our elections.
One somewhat bright note: Sen. Warner does believe that “our elections systems are more secure and prepared today than they were in 2016.” So that’s good, at least. But overall, clearly we have a LOT more work to do to secure our elections and fight back against interference from Russia and elsewhere, as well as dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. That all requires money, and what Warner finds “outrageous is that the president of the United States is trying to discourage people from using mail-in voting,” which “has been used across the country for decades” and is both “safe” and “effective.” Warner added that, for Trump “to try to put that fear in these last 83 days is inappropriate.”
Another concern for Sen. Warner: “the security and operations of the Postal Service…This president..has seemed to make it a mission to try to undermine Americans’ confidence in the Post Office,” including the “dramatic reorganization” of the USPS this past Friday; raising the cost of mailing out absentee ballots, voter information, etc. This is particularly concerning, according to Sen. Warner, given that people are going to vote by mail in “unprecedented numbers” this election, in large part due to COVID-19.