The United States Senate rejected additional funds for election security yesterday. Their rejection follows mounting evidence of what Russia did in 2016 and what they continue to do to this day. Report after report from our intelligence agencies, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and even Congress themselves layout evidence of election interference. Still, North Dakota’s Senator John Hoeven rejected the funding aimed at combating it in 2018.
Recall Senator John Hoeven was a member of a small Republican delegation who spent our Independence Day in Russia. The purpose and outcome of that trip aren’t fully known to the public as members of that delegation have given varying explanations and summaries. Some members said conversations were “frank,” others said they weren’t there to deliver accusations. Which was it? On the very same day Hoeven met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his colleagues in the Senate on the Intelligence Committee issued a bipartisan report agreeing with our independent intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere in the 2016 election.
A week following Hoeven’s trip, the Special Counsel indicted twelve Russian intelligence officers. The indictment laid out in detail their complex efforts to compromise our election integrity. This week, social media platforms have reported more sophisticated efforts are ongoing. In other words, evidence continues to mount that we need a serious and robust effort to combat election interference in the midterm election.
Yet, here we are less than 100 days until the election with evidence growing, alarms ringing from experts, and politicians like Hoeven refuse to approve a measure to bolster our preparedness. Why? Hoeven should be more concerned because the state he represents was targeted in 2016. In September of 2017, DHS released a list of 21 states whose voting systems were targeted by hackers. North Dakota was on that list.
The bottom line is our state could use additional federal dollars for election integrity. In the 2017 legislative session, lawmakers rejected funding new voting machines after being informed they would be outdated by the next Presidential election. The system doesn’t appear to be of importance to legislative candidates in the midterm. Secretary of State candidates Josh Boschee and incumbent Al Jaeger will need to share their plans on voting integrity. Still, Hoeven should explain his thinking on this issue.