Pensacola News Journal
Ledyard King, USA TODAY NETWORK
March 4, 2017
In the wake of allegations about Russian interference into the presidential election, Sen. Bill Nelson is asking federal regulators to draw up security standards to prevent outside hackers from accessing or disrupting elections systems.
The Florida Democrat joined with Colorado Democrat Tom Udall in asking the National Institute of Standards of Technology to issue guidelines that would help identify and prevent foreign players from influencing election outcomes by compromising the integrity of antiquated voting machines, voter registration databases, and elections systems.
“To be sure, the U.S. election system is highly decentralized and most voting machines are not on-line, making wide-scale, nationwide fraud very unlikely,” the senators wrote in a letter Wednesday to the agency. “Nonetheless, given that our last presidential election was won by a mere 80,000 votes in only three states, Russian officials could be emboldened to target a relatively small number of voting locations and swing future elections toward the Kremlin’s desired outcome.”
The letter asks NIST to work with the Election Assistance Commission in developing the security standards. Created following the disputed presidential election of 2000, the EAC supports state and local election officials in their efforts to ensure accessible, accurate and secure elections.
Election reform has been particularly important to Nelson given Florida’s history of voting challenges and the state’s perennial role as key battleground in the presidential contest.