The Senate Judiciary Committee, quietly and at the very last moment Wednesday, passed what should be an unnecessary bill by voice vote. The bill would make hacking an election system a federal crime.
You would think that was already a law, but you’d be wrong. Last year the Justice Department reported that “should hacking of a voting machine occur, the government would not, in many conceivable circumstances, be able to use CFAA [The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] to prosecute the hackers.” So we need a law.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Judiciary Committee, was the chief Republican sponsor of Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s legislation. “Voting machines are a prime penetrable target, and laws remain woefully outdated. This bipartisan bill provides the Department of Justice with powerful tools to vigorously prosecute and stop malicious hackers,” Blumenthal said Thursday. “Its unanimous passage tells the world that securing our nation’s elections and cyber infrastructure is a bipartisan cause.”
It’s unclear if this will be the one piece of election protection legislation acted upon by the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been the gatekeeper of all that, and has thus far refused to allow it. He even yanked a bill from the Rules Committee last year the same day that it was supposed to be voted on to advance to the floor.
Since this one wouldn’t actually prevent hacking from occurring in 2020 but would be applicable after the fact, it might pass muster. What McConnell really doesn’t want to have happen is anything that could secure our systems before November 3, 2020. He’s doing his damnedest to make sure Republicans, including Trump and himself, get all the nefarious help they can.