WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ As New Hampshire voters cast their ballots in the first presidential primary, Democratic lawmakers in Washington are making a push to pass a bill over Republican objections to protect election security.
Democratic senators say the legislation is urgent in the wake of bipartisan agreement that President Donald Trump sought foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election — even if it didn’t rise to the level of an impeachable offense.
“The 2020 election is going to make 2016 look like small potatoes,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said.
Wyden urged Republicans to take action now to ensure Russia and other foreign governments do not interfere in the 2020 election.
“When you can have voting machines with an open connection to the internet, it’s just like stashing our ballots in the Kremlin,” Wyden explained.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, was among the democrats who tried to force a vote on the Senate floor Tuesday on the bill. He said the bills would harden election systems and require paper ballots.
“Our decisions are under attack, our elections are under siege,” Blumenthal said.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said the bills would also require presidential candidates to report any foreign interference.
“The appropriate response is not to say ‘Thank you,’ – the appropriate response is to call the FBI,” Warner said.
But the measures have been met with resistance in the Republican-controlled Senate, that argues the Democratic effort is more about politics than election security.
“We would end up having a less safe electoral process,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, said.
Blackburn was one of many Republican senators who objected to the bill and prevented the vote.
She believes it’s up to the states to regulate elections and the federal government should support their efforts.
“We do not believe federalizing the process and taking the power away from local government and states governments is the way to do that,” Blackburn said.