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Group of 100 former gov't officials urges Senate to secure U.S. elections

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
The group urged the upper chamber to act on five active pieces of legislation that aim to bolster security at polling stations. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
The group urged the upper chamber to act on five active pieces of legislation that aim to bolster security at polling stations. File Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A group of 100 former lawmakers, cabinet officials, diplomats and other government officers sent a letter to the Senate Thursday, urging the upper chamber to increase security for next year's presidential election against "severe" potential threats to national security.

The group from Issue One's ReFormer's Caucus cited five active bipartisan bills related to security, and encouraged lawmakers to act on them before November 2020. The legislation includes a bill for greater transparency for online political ads and another authorizes sanctions for nations that interfere, as Russia did in 2016. Other bills focus on foreign influence and money for political campaigns.

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The group said it's concerned at the lack of meaningful action in Congress so far.

"Foreign interference in American elections is a national security emergency," they wrote in the letter. "We are alarmed at the lack of meaningful Congressional action to secure our elections. The United States cannot afford to sit by as our adversaries exploit our vulnerabilities. Congress -- especially the Senate -- must enact a robust and bipartisan set of policies now."

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Included in the group are former Defense Secretaries Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel, who served under President Barack Obama, and former Homeland Security Secretary James Loy, who served under President George W. Bush.

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Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken action intended to purge political misinformation, particularly among sources that pay to promote such content.

"A political message earns reach when people decide to follow an account or retweet," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Wednesday. "Paying for reach removes that decision, forcing highly optimized and targeted political messages on people. We believe this decision should not be compromised by money."

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