tv Senate Hearing on Election Security CSPAN May 23, 2022 12:56pm-2:45pm EDT
>> next, state officials and activists testifying before the senate rules and administration committee on how the federal government can assist with election security and infrastructure. the witnesses talk about technical issues such as paper shortages for ballots, procedures for mail-in voting, and needing funds to upgrade equipment. this is an hour and 45 minutes. >> [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> good morning.
i called the order of the shooting of the rules committee on the administration of upcoming elections. i would like to thank ranking member blunt and our colleagues who are here with more to come, for being here. our witnesses who i will introduce shortly are acting secretary of the commonwealth of pennsylvania, chapman. i want to thank you. you have a few things going on i believe. damon hewitt he was the president and executive director ofmi the lawyers' committee for civil rights under law, and tammy patrick, the senior advisor for elections at democracy fund. we're alsoda going to hear fromo back witnesses will be introduced by senator blunt. i thank you for being here, louisiana secretary of state are to one, and wesley wilcox come supervisor of elections fory, marion county florida. in 2020 we saw election officials across the country rise to the challenge of holding
elections in a global pandemic, and we thank everyone of you for that. thanks in large part to the work of the local election officials and volunteers, and everyone who took part. we had f more options for americans to cast a ballot. and because of that, more americans voted than ever before in the middle of a global pandemic. it's kind of an extraordinary fact for our democracy and certainly a tribute to the work of local election officials. at the time the department of homeland security declared the 2020 election the most secure election in our country. now, election officials are working to prepare for and administer this year midterm elections, ten states have already held primary elections, and dozens more will do so through the summer. as we know one of our witnesses, secretary chapman, just held pennsylvania's primary on
tuesday with voting already underway we have heard of a number of challenges facing election administrators, including the spread of misinformation, disinformation that continues to take a toll on both election officials and voters. election after election millions of americans see inaccurate or misleading information about elections, and the voting process on social media and it is hurting our democracy. at the same time investing in election security, including cybersecurity, continues to be a priority for many election officials as intelligence officials warn that our elections remain a target for foreign adversaries. we also continue to hear about the need for reliable stream of federal funding for elections so officials can make improvements and keep pace with new technology. newer challenges are emerging as well, like the paper challenge, the shortages that we have heard are impacting secretary ardoin
and other officials trying to secure needed election supplies. this committee has also discussed the rice and threats and harassment targeting election officials from both parties, and i appreciate senator blunt holding a hearing with me. in an increase in 2020. out of last during october former republican philadelphia citysc commissioner out schmidt testified about threats that he and his family had received, including a message that said tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot come with the names of the seven-year-old son and his 11-year-old and 14-year-old daughters and a photo of their home.lo .. have done active shooter trainings and have bullet-proof vest. studies found one in five election officials are unlikely to serve through 2024. i hope that is not none of you. in light of these challenges, we must support the election officials working on the
>> estimate has taken steps to work work toward solutions. i've introduced legislation with senator ossoff and idea and based on recent legal opinion senator blunt and i have called on the election assistance commission to ensure that help america vote act funds can be used for security and social media ex monitoring which we expect il they will do shortly and is crucial given the dramatic rise in threats. in addition yesterday with senator warren and several other members of this committee , feinstein merkley came and padilla we introduced a bill unto support election tadministration and election security. more must be done and i look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how we can best assure election administrators have the support they need and finally i want to note in many states when voters cast a ballot this year they will be
confronted with new laws taking it harder to vote. that's why i continue to believe we need federal canvassing so all americans can vote in the way thatworks best for them . thank you again to our witnesses and i also like to acknowledge the nature blunt that archie clerk cindy crawley is with us for her last hearing today and we want to thank cindy for her service. [applause] senator blunt. >> thank you chairwoman for holding this hearing andour witnesses for joining us today . senator padilla and i are the two former secretaries of state so we want to recognize our colleagues who are here today. secretary chapman and secretary are doing or being here as well as everybody else on the panel. as a former election administrator both as the secretary of state and mister wilcox is a local election authority before that i know
what it takes to run elections and for more than 200 years states have been responsible for elections. state and local election officials worked tirelessly managing multiple elections in a year working through the difficult logistical challenges elections bring and ask all our election s officials know some of those challenges are greater in the small turnout elections when he you're dealing with the school board and a local election and the water district trand maybe other things in n addition to that. so thanks for all of our election officials and largely volunteer people that come forward and make these elections work. our role in the congress is to support these and their administration of elections and give them assistance they need to innovate and serve the needs of their citizens. today's rain builds on the hearing i chair and really
two hearings i chaired in 2018 and 2020 with senator klobuchar by my side as we can now have an opportunity to hear from election officials that are on the front lines of elections and others are watching those front lines and giving advice . here are the highlights of he the work they're doing and learn more about what's happening as election officials prepare for this year's elections. while the 2020 elections from an unprecedented teset of new challenges to election officials especially those that were uniquely based on the pandemic that we were facing and an increase in threats to election workers, the issues facing election officials have been prevalent for years are still there. cyber security remains a top concern for election officials. our foreign and domestic adversaries have sought to so
distrust in trour elections by attacking ngelection infrastructure and spreading this information online. i often hear from election officials who like increase and improve information sharing from their federal counterparts or people who know things at e the federal level but state and local administrators need to know our state election io administrators have access to more and better information than they ever have before but i look forward to hearing your concern about how that could continue to improve. states must also continue the important work of recruiting, training and retaining whole workers. many of whom do this as basically a ctvolunteer activity and it's pretty easy to on volunteer if this is an activity you decide you don't want to bepart of . i look forward to hearing
what our witnesses are doing to about steps they've taken to encourage more people to play an active role in elections by serving as a whole workers . the supply chain issues as the senator mentioned are also affecting elections like they are affecting much of the rest of the economy with primary elections ongoing in the november general election rapidly approaching vinyl that states have all the necessary supplies to ensure every voter has an opportunity to cast a ballot. today this committee has an opportunity to come together in a bipartisan way to learn about lessons of the past several years, how they're ppreparing to administer elections this year and how it's possible congress can help the states better achieve their goals. i want to thank my colleagues , some of whom are with us virtually and paying attention that way and i want to thank our witnesses for
being heretoday and i look forward to a productive discussion . >> like you very much. and thank you for your being such a good colleague senator blunt. our first witness is lee chapman, a secretary of the commonwealth of pennsylvania. previously she served as executive director of deliver my vote and held a senior role at the conference on civil and human rights. she her bachelor's degree from the university of virginia and law degree from howard university. our second witness is damon hewitt, director of the lawyers committee for civil rights under law with more than 20 years of civil rights litigation policy experience including a decade at the naacp legal defense fund. he earned his bachelors from louisiana state and law degree from the university of pennsylvania. kenny patrick is also with us . she is a senior advisor to the elections program democracy fund and an elections administration expert who served on the
presidential commission on election administration under president obama as well as the maricopa county elections department in arizona. she is an adjunct professor at university of minnesota's preschool where she teaches courses for the certificate and election administration of course we are proud of our election system in minnesota. i asked voter turnout in the country. and she earned her bachelor's degree from purdue university . senator blunt will now introduce our other two witnesses . >> senator, if you afford more about that minnesota turnout you. being yourself. i'm glad you're able to do that. i'm glad all five of our witnesses are here today.
let me introduce secretary of state kyle one from louisiana and leslie wilcox supervisor of elections for marion county. secretary has served as louisiana's secretary of state since 2018. previously serving as the first assistant secretary of ry state in louisiana for eight years prior to that. so along time being near this job and doing this job. he also currently serves as resident of the national association of secretaries of state and on the election infrastructure subsector coordinating council. mister wilcox served as supervisor of elections for marion county florida since 2012. another decade of servicein this job . he possesses more than 30 years of experience in the election industry. currently serves as president of the florida visor elections association and is
chairman of the election infrastructure information sharing and executive committee. we look forward to what d all you have to say. >> is witnesses could raise yourright hand . you do use where the testimony will be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. we will recognize each witness for five minutes. >> accu chairwoman klobuchar, routing number blunt and other esteemed members of the senate rules committee for allowing me to offer remarks regarding the state of elections in the commonwealth of pennsylvania. i'm lee chapman, acting secretary of state of pennsylvania appointed to this role i governor tom will january of this year. leespecially as chief elections
officer my role is to ensure elections are accessible and every eligible voter in pennsylvania and register, cast their ballots and have it counted. i was asked to you regarding the currentelections landscape in my state . first i'll provide a brief update on tuesday's primary election and after that i will sharethree concerns out front of mine at the department of state of pennsylvania . and those three concerns are one the time for pre-canvassing mail ballots, to this information and disinformation surrounding elections and the need for a robust consistent funding of elections. so pennsylvania's primary election on tuesday was successful with minimal issues. as of this morning we have 50,000 ballots left to be counted. there were just a few counties who experienced unique issues. at least one which has been widely reported by themedia . on tuesday morning in
lancaster county election officials began al pre-canvassing mail ballots which is the process of reviewing the outer envelope and removing the inner secrecy envelope aiand tabulating but not recording votes they discovered an estimated 22,000 ballots could not be read by the scanners due to an incorrect barcode. teams are now and marking new ballots which entails one person reading out the markings from the original balance, a second person marking the new ballot while the third observes to ensure the remarked ballots is accurate before it is scanned and counted. this is the transparent process involving both political parties and as of this morning there are 3800 balance left to remark. this leads to the first concern. the incident in lancaster county reinforces a request made by the department of state and all the election officials in pennsylvania
that the state legislature extend the time for pre-canvassing of mail in and absentee ballots. e an earlier start to pre-canvassing may have learned lancaster to the barcode issue sooner than the morning of election day. even where no problem presents at least 15 days of pre-canvassing free election workers tolifocus on the many other r obligations they have on election day . it would align pennsylvania with the 37 other states that allow for pre-canvassing ballots and permit officials to release unofficial results similar to states like florida were able to call the 20/20 general election on election night because of pre-canvassing . so that leads to my next which is that county and state election officials continue to bear the burden of addressing misinformation and disinformation regarding the integrity of our election . it is especially disturbing that some disinformation has
come from those with a sworn duty to defend our democratic process . the november 2020 election in pennsylvania like every election since was free, fair and secure. allegations of illegal activity in pennsylvania's 20/20 presidential election have been repeatedly dismissed and more than two dozen federal court cases and debunked by independent fact checkers . repeating this falsehood over and over harms our democracy and voters confidence in our elections process. finally and most significantly counties consistently express another need. adequate consistent funding from the state and federal government. in pennsylvania counties bear virtually all cost to run elections at every level. the need for more consistent funding was especially apparent in 2020 and in addition to the pandemic counties were required to upgrade voting systems to incorporate a verifiable paper about and implement
when mailing voting for millions of voters. for some counties there was virtually no way they could have counted mail ballots without significant financial investment for equipment and additionalmanpower . despite assistance from the ur federal government many counties faced a discrepancy between available resources and their needs . it was only because of nonprofit grants many counties were able to purchase automatic envelope and earth, scanners and mail serversto process ballots . we think tank the chairwoman and her cosponsors for introducing legislation that would create a permanent f stream of funding for elections and support that effort . we also asked members of this committee or any proposal that would shore up election infrastructure and access to the ballot. thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important conversation and i welcome any questions you may have you for your good work. secretary.
>> got to push that button. ranking number blunt and distinguished members of this committee . good morning and thank you for having me. i serve as lillian louisiana's 44th secretary of state and i'm pleased to be speaking before you today because louisiana has unique experience and election preparation. not only did we have to deal with the challenges of covid-19 as did my colleagues but in 2020 we were faced with the running of the presidential election in the aftermath of tropical storms crystal ball and beta and change laura , marco, delta and sata. the last of which made landfall in louisiana on your six days the election day. in 2021 we were faced with another major storm and hurricane ida which devastated parts of our state just six weeks prior to our statewide elections. thankfully we were able to execute all these elections due to the hard work of our elections staff across the
state and in cooperation with other state agencies. however, this year's federal election is a new challenge. the supply-chain backlog that has and will continue to affect paper supplies across the country. let me be clear. this crisis, this is a crisis that demand immediate attention and bipartisan action. it is not an exaggeration to say if this situation is not handled it could lead to a serious erosion and the confidence of our elections. in louisiana alone we had to contact every paper producer in north america not just the united states to ensure we will have the supplies we need. louisiana uses a much smaller amount of paper and other states for elections. in the 2020 presidential election and percent of the 2.1 million votes cast in louisiana were by paper. if we had to piecemeal the supplies we need to execute the election how well other states with greater needs
manage? in the most recent midterm election in 2018 pacs election administration and voting survey data that over 42 million mail ballots were transmitted across the country. additionally over 85 percent of the nation's jurisdictions use paper or paper component and their voting systems. furthermore we must consider the need paper supplies for mail ballots envelopes, voter instructions, old books and many special types of paper to comply with their state law. in 2017 department of homeland security declared election ctinfrastructure as quote radical infrastructure. then secretary of the department of homeland security j johnsons", designation makes it clear both domestically and internationally election infrastructure enjoys all the benefits and protections of critical infrastructure t that the us government has tooffer . that is why i have asked
federal government to activate defense production asked to ensure paper suppliers prioritize election related materials i had of november's election. i also believe there are other innovative ways to ensure ample supply for state and local jurisdictions including the use of tax incentives to earn paper suppliers to prioritize election based ssupplies . a persistent supply chain issues are affecting other aspects of our election administration efforts especially as it relates to the transportation of election supplies. in 2021 vehicle shortage for louisiana to see delivery trucks and stay as far away as georgia with four months remaining until the federal 45 day ballot deadline and less than six months until election day there can be no delay for action. additionally we are continuing to work on shoring up our cyber security defenses against bad actors both foreign and domestic . recent advisory in the united states and our allies have warned we should expect quote b& cyber actors including
state-sponsored advance persistent groups to step up there targeting. the advisory specifically warned these groups or individuals should be targeted, be targeting managed service providers i've long spoken out against the need for msps to be open and transparent with government partners and in louisiana we championed legislation to require more accountability from msps that operate in our state . without clear communications between the jurisdictionsthey service we cannot effectively fight those that with which to do so . with armas. in a world that is interconnected and with our enemies seeking to undermine our elections is more important than ever that we work together. public private entities, local state and federal governments across agencies to protect critical infrastructure. these challenges are in addition to the aging i population of all workers. information and threats to election officials and staff. however working as partners
we can devise solutions to these pressing issues. we have no choice but to succeed. the american people expectand deserve no less . >> thank you very much. next up mister hewitt. >> good morning chairwoman klobuchar, senator blunt. my name is damon hewitt, president and executive director of the committee for civil rights under law. thank you for the opportunity to testify today.as i begin i want to lift up the victims of the massacre in buffalo new york who were killed this weekend. they were killed by a white supremacist who drove three hours to deliberately hunt down and kill explicitly black people who were shopping for groceries. as we learn more about killers terroristic acts, the deadliest mass shooting in
america this year we know it was fueled by lies, misinformation and re disinformation and that makes it parallel to what we are seeing in the election and voting context. i'm here to warn another effect of these lies. the rapid deterioration of our democracy riand unprecedented threats of io violence and intimidation against elected officials and other communities of color all around this country. as president of the committee i lead an organization that uses legal advocacy to ensure that we fight for racial justice. we fight inside the court, outside the courts but we fight to ensure black people and other people of color among every american have a voice, opportunity and power to make the great promises of our democracy real. as part of that work we can be in the election protection coalition, the nations largest nonpartisan voter protection for an 866 hour both online. voter assistance, which is also nonpartisan.
through that hotline hundreds of thousands of voters call or information and assistance to report problems of election administration including problems with paper ballots, problems with mail-in ballots and even intimidation poles or even online. our work gives us unique insight into patterns at the state and local level . too often what we're seeing is the erosion of election infrastructure and democratic process . always on misrepresentations and lies designed to divide us. my message for this committee is simple. election laws that perpetuate the tax on harassment and post penalties or hefty fines on election administrators just trying to do their jobs are wrong. voting laws and practices and impose unnecessaryarticles on voters especially voters of color in order to exercise that fundamental rights are also wrong . thisis a vicious cycle . undermining and harassing election workers arms voters and make it harder for voters er to cast a ballot election
workers i'm making already difficult jobs that much harder especially in this context of the last few years . what we learned 2020 was that democracy works when you let it. you saw incredible energy participation across party lines yet legislatures have now riintroduced and did a wave of restrictive voting bills ironically in response to those record levels of participation. throughout the 2021 year beginning of this year we have seen bills that are banning early voting hours, shortening the window to request absentee ballots , threatening new criminal and financial s penalties against election administrators and privileging partisan poll watchers running sometimes unfettered access to the polls. many of these laws were passed in spite of universal bipartisan opposition from election thadministrators around the country who want legislators at the laws would have a chilling effect on election workers themselves
and ultimately make it harder ak for voters to cast a ballot. in many instances lawmakers failed to heed the election administrators warnings and impacts of these changes will come to light during this year's mary and midterm elections and in fact in some states they already have. these laws are heightening levels of racial discrimination. they are when analyzing the power of criminal law to sweep aside neutral and nonpartisan election administrators functionally disenfranchising voters in the process and furthermore they are giving those who want to so violence, doubt and misdirection in election process it's given them political camouflage were there threats and attacks. but simply these laws undermine our democracy. this week marks the 65th anniversary of doctor martin luther king jr.'s famous speech give us the ballot
where he warned about those who gained prominence in power by the dissemination of false ideas deliberately appealing to the deepest called responses in the human mind. doctor king reminded us these individuals by no means id represent the majority but the false ideas they spread rollout or and those who disagree with them remained silent because of the year of political or economic reprisals. i said earlier democracy is a promise a. democracy is also a choice. we have a choice when it comes to election administration. we can make it easier to vote in elections or make it harder. as policymakers you can make a choice. a choice in favor of democracy. during these unprecedented times i urge the senate to not just speak out mildly against bennett's information and lies to stop it in its tracks . true legislation in any means that you can . >> thank you mister hewitt. next up we are discussing votes and other things if we
get distracted here. next up mister wilcox, thank you. >> good morning chairwoman. ranking member blunt and members of the committee. i'm wesley wilcox supervisor of elections for marion county florida and president of the florida miser of elections association with more than 30 years experience in the election industry and i nationally certified. most of us at least on the table and on the committee likely recall the 2000 general election. admittedly it was not our finest hour. in the 20 years arsince in florida and many other states have made great improvements culminating in an administratively accurate and successful 20/20 general election. florida offers no excuse vote by mail option that has proven to be quite popular especially during thepandemic . as mentioned earlier by secretary chapman one of the things that sets florida
apart in 2020 is the fact that vote by mail ballots are processed in s weeks prior to the election. this allows us to publish nearly complete vote by mail totals on election night and in addition if there is an issue with a male about signature we have time to contact the voter providing them an opportunity to cure their ballots. several years ago we also added an increase in early voting option to meet the needs of our extremely diverse population. elections are best administered at the state and local level. a two-week early voting period offered in miami-dade county with 1.5 million voters is probably not needed for a small county such as lafayette with only 4500 voters. the centralized elections are also a positive from a national security perspective making it more difficult for bad actors attempting to compromise the system since there is no central point of attack.
florida also has well-developed laws and procedures for recounts, postelection audits providing clear guidelines and procedures . there have also been significant efforts inraising the professionalism of election officials . since the year 2000 1300 election professionals across the country have received their natural certified elections and registration administrator sarah designation with 119 of those from florida. our fsc association developed and nationally awarded florida certified election professional program. this program consists of core course plus renewal and 120 hours of content instructed by industry experts. since its inception in 2009 we have had over 800 participants with 200 four 45 of those obtaining their masterscertification .
in recent years election security has become a top priority. partnerships with local state meand federal agencies have beenstrengthened . 2017 the department of homeland 2security is a native elections as critical infrastructure and the center for internet security formed the elections infrastructure informationsharing and analysis center .fof which i am actually the vice chair of the executiveboard . through the ice act election officials have access to resources and tools for implementing cyber security best practices. florida has used dollars to fund our election security grant programs which have been extremely beneficial across the state. despite these vast improvements and strong partnerships grave concerns running for me and my colleagues. florida was touted as the gold standard and model for voting in the 2020 election . but lately the accolades have weighed and the high-fives for a jobwell done have ceased . instead, they've been
replaced by threats of violence against us or our families. accusations of rampant voter rolls irregularities. allegations of voter fraud or voter suppression and an inundation of public records requests. my colleagues and i continue to defend the accuracy of our 2020 election and our cherished democracy which remains under relentless and unprecedented roger falsehoods. misinformation has made our job more difficult as we battle on the front lines s defending our democracy.ou several of my tenured colleagues have retired or announced their impending retirements due to these unceasing false narratives. even the days of wanting to be an election worker for your own civic duty have been replaced with fear and polling place disruptions. we've spent over two decades professionalizing our conduct of elections and now in a short time our institutions are being undermined by
falsehoods that continually weaken voter confidence in our elections. the challenge facing our elections are daunting and in normal times election worker recruitment is eldifficult but today it is nearly impossible. elections offices across the nation orerwill need record amounts ofpaper for our ballots and other supplies . they've all been affected by the paper shortages. and lest we all forget the 2022 election is taking place after the decennial census with its resulting redistricting challenge, challenging operation even in the best of times and finally many of us are also facing new state election laws resulting in amending court cases and requiring substantial voter education. election law changes are the most successful when they are a collaborative effort between administrators and legislative bodies. we remain dedicated to impartial administration of florida's election laws and conducting fair honest and
accurate elections . our d goal is to make it easier to vote and hard to cheat. thank you again for the opportunity to testify onthis important topic . >> you very much, ms. patrick . >> ranking member blunt, members of the committee and honored guests it's a privilege to provide testimony on the status of election administration and preparedness. my name is tammy patrick and i serve as senior advisor to the elections team at the democracy fund and as an adjunct professor at the humphrey school of public policy at the university of minnesota i worked with the election administration field for 20 years and sends a letter fromand maricopa county , most of them as the compliance officer and i to am certified as a supervisor. i had the great fortune of knowing many state and local election officials as well as many across the country who are working across the aisle and across the myriad of facets of our election system
to ensure officials have the tools and resources they need to serve their voters well. as a representative of the elections center to the us postal service is mail technical advisory council for over a decade, i have forged relationships needed the improvement of our system to better deliver democracy to the american voters. today i'd like to share what i've been seeing unfold for the primaries andforthcoming november midterm elections . my testimony covers seven different topics but i'd like to focus on just one topic, paper and supply chain issues an a what secretary arguments senseless car. these are new in the scope and scale of what we are seeing m. my comments are derived directly from recent communications with election officials and service ti industry providers. each section provides direct comments from administrators and an overview of the issue and impact it's having now in
the field of election administration . needs paper, exclamation. some folks have stockpiled paper but overall ballot paper for november is a major concern from a local election official. another localelection official . paper shortage issues were mitigated because we contract with a vendor who responded by purchasing paper early. we did have to increase what we pay however to our vendor and yet from the service industry provider the supply chain issues get further and further pushed out. additionally more allocations are in place so for example recently our supplier issued part of the border replace months ago and cannot fulfill the rest. we're having to pay higher prices for paper sizes larger than what is needed and cut them down to size so we have the ability to keep moving out work. paper supply chain concerns began servicing and the 2020
election. the origin of the paper supply is mostly domestic coming from north american mills secretary arguments mentioned in the united states and canada. when the international supplies became problematic other markets turn to these domestic sources to fill their gaps. this reduction in supply was heard at the same time as the increased demand for corrugated paper to fill the spike in online shopping during the pandemic . we've thnot had a new paper mill open in the united states since the 1980s and the existing mills did not simultaneously trcontinue their traditional paper production and take on the corrugated manufacturing. many of them opted to change production to be more lucrative corrugated product. alex and envelope printers began seeing these issues in late 2021 and started to ask her election official customers to get their orders in early in order to take care of their customers they placed their paper orders well in advance of normal schedules h. standard turnaround times i've gone from a few weeks to
many months thin order to fulfill and it is now common for orders to be incomplete, partial shipments back orders and outright becancellation are becoming typical. this is creating a disparate impact on jurisdictions. those who use a vendor or service provider may be in better shape but only if that vendor preorder paper stock. the order was fully satisfied and the jurisdiction that their order in early enough. election officials which have traditionally created their own materials and house are now finding it very difficult to obtain items and are turning to these same vendors who are already strapped serving their existing customer base. service providers and vendors are now having to turn customers away and those customers are leaving empty-handed. an additional impact is felt in those states that have changes to their election policies and laws that negate the ability to use existing inventory of materials. new registration requirements , ballot application changes
may necessitate throwing away existing paper products and require reprinting in an already strained market. not all states and election officers will be impacted equally by paper shortages. states that offer online and automated voter registration and those that utilize electronic looks will not be as hard as those relying on paper registration. to be very clear paper shortage is pervasive. it's across all materials required to conduct an election and simply limiting options for voters through an in person solution is not viable. states that have all my y mail regimes as well as those that offer in person are having issues. it's not just ballot paper but paper used for postcards, it's for everything. but paper shortage further impacts election administration timelines and unless the shortages remedied statutorily required election mail and notices may not go out on time. the condensed timeframe and resources leave no room for error and we know that errors
can occur in printing.given the shortage may not be available stock to reprint states need to contemplate how they may handle that situation y. despite the utmost gravity of the paper and supply chain shortage there's one silver lining . i always try togive something positive . a provider told me. >> we try as well it's hard in these times. one thing that came out of it is a vendor told me they were working with the state and ra couldn't get the normal paper for their voter registration material and were encouraged to redesign to fit the paper sizes they had. it was a decades-old form they were able to revise and make their materials easier to comprehend. it's the perfect example of how election administrator professions work. they are continually deprived of resources but tried to find the best solution available since the election must go on thank you so much missed patrick.
i was looking at secretary are the one, i think he's happy but not just the mississippi river that in connects minnesota and louisiana from the beginning to the end but also trying to get this paper issue so thank you very much . i'm going tostart with you . i think secretary chapman. you agree that election workers need additional federal protections and resources to ensure safety as well as administrative elections? >> in pennsylvania we have 67 counties and one consensus we have from most county election directors and county commissioners is the need for additional robust funding to administer elections. so just as an example before 2020 it cost around $20 million to run an election statewide inonpennsylvania . since then that cost at least to the department has skyrocketed.
we spent around $60 million just as a department alone not including county cost. we implemented mail-in voting in 2019. that increased the cost for county e. they had to buy scanners and tabulator's and new equipment to fulfill that need. we had around 6 million voters in the commonwealth of pennsylvania who have used mail in voting. that need for both the federal government but also the state government to partner, to support our elections is something critical to supportcounty administrators . >> i would think cyber securityof which we have assisted . how about the threats against election workers, are you continuing to see that in your state? >> unfortunately we are and it's a concern we're taking seriously and youmentioned partnering with federal partners . we had a meeting with dhs and
other federal partners a few weeks before the primary election with all 67 county election directors to talk about how to report threats, how to mitigate threats. so we've had very good partnerships with our law enforcement partners but it's something we're concerned about. election officials are your neighbors, they're your friends, your families and they're trying to do their co job to make sure every vote is counted and every voter had the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote so they shouldn't be threatened and it's a shame that's happening . >> thank you for saying that so well because i know you had issues in your state and is one of the reasons senator warren and i and a number of people have put together this package forelection funding . mister hewitt, i have pushed the social media companies to improve their policies for electionrelated disinformation . make sure these policies are in force. while we saw some improvements in 20/20 there's still so much progress to be
made . what kind of disinformation do you think was particularly harmful in 2020 ? >> thank you for the question. what we saw being harmful was the kind of disinformation that steer people away from trying to vote via certain means or sometimes at all. there are a couple of individuals who we have sued and they've been prosecuted who set up a series of thousands of robo calls to voters. and they use a narrator had voiced appearing to sound as if she were an african-american woman. she may well have been the voice on the robo calls and if you vote by mail the information will be used to track you down to execute outstanding warrants by the police. it will be used to track you down to get the information to creditors for croutstanding debts and be used by the cdc to screquire mandatory vaccinations. you think about fears in the
black community about police misconduct, about economic insecurity, about the dusky experiment. trying to hit all those pressure points to have a chilling effect on voting by mail for some people was a safe and effective means of casting a ballot then and now . we saw that through the airwaves so we sued civilly. we put facebook nana and the other companies on notice as well but we need more help from congress. >> very good. i wasn't aware of that thank you for sharing that chilling story. miss patrick, as a member of the postal service working group on election males do you anticipate any significant mail processing and delivery issues this year , the answer in the one minute if i can get my colleagues. >> one of the biggest challenges will be the continued utilization. >> we now break away from this program to keep our over 40 year commitment to live gavel to gavel coverage of
congress. the senate about to gavel in for what we believe will be a brief session . several senators are in switzerland for the world economic forum. live coverage of the senate here on c-span2. >> the senate will come to order. the court will be theng indication to the senate . >> to the senate under paragraph three of the standing rules i hereby appoint the honorable tammy duckworth a senatorfrom the state of illinois to checks, qy
million voters vote in person in the presidential election in 93% of those voted in person. we are going to encourage those to vote in person, so that there is enough supply for those individuals who need to vote by mail or absentee, to be able to utilize that service. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much. senator blunt. sen. blunt: ms. wilcock -- mr. wilcox, let's go to pre-canvassing, which means you can open the absentee or mail in envelope, what else do you do. i do not have much time here, quickly give us a sense of what you do before election day and when you actually count in the pre-canvassing environment? mr. wilcox: thank you. we actually, as vote by males are returned to us we are able to validate the signatures.
starting three weeks before the election, we will open the envelope and run the ballots themselves through the tabulation machines, processing them, without releasing any of the results. we know how many we have ran through so that on election night, when 7:00 p.m. goes through, the only vote by mail we are dealing with are those that literally were dropped at our door the last 15 or 20 minutes. >> so it allows us that you did on reporting results in a timely manner e. >> do you have it. a process where there's not a signature or do you reject that balance. >> as soon as we receive a vote by mail ballot, if there's any question concerning the signature we at that point attempt to notify the voter by postal. if we got an email address going to do that.
letting them know the signature on their vote by mail ballots may be in question . >> then that processing is done at the bipartisan way just like elections are administered in a bipartisan way. >> yes sir it is. >> is anybody aware of that count as it occurs except knowing in fact that the ballot was counted ? >> we know turnout at that point in time and that's all we know. you could ask me two weeks before the election and i could say i've had 37,000 ballots cast and that could be vote by mail or early voting. >> and counties have three weeks, you said do they have the discretion to start when the need to start? >> yes sir. miami-dade will start three weeks. lafayette county may start only oneweek prior . we as administrators canvassing board members have the discretion to our personal needs. >> you or your predecessor asked the legislature to give
youmore free canvassing ability ? >> we happen all 67 counties are in support. that's why thursday are election was tuesday and there's 50,000 ballots left to becounted because election officials are able to start the pre-canvas until 7 am . >> what do you do on free canvassing? >> thank you senator. as a result of the hurricanes in 2020 we initiated an emergency process. we have an emergency process. state and the governor cannot i have to present a plan to the legislature and we did provide for that . we provided for i believe it was four days prior to the election to start the ballot processing but not the county. county starts on election day . >> and is the legislature always in session or do you have to present that sometime
before the election ? >> i have to present it before the election and to lo the two committees with jurisdiction on both sides then those committees improve it and it goes to a mail ballot . >> but when you have a hurricane six days before the election wind up changing polling places? >> we do emergency changes. >> would you have the same ability to do those changes if there was a set of federal guidelines mark. >> knows her. >> how about you miss wilcox, what do you think you'd lose if there was a federal structure as opposed to a state-by-state structure ? >> i'm in strong support of local and state control of the election because the things that work for the state of florida worked very well in the state of florida but for federal legislation i don't know how you could get florida and colorado and louisiana and get us all into the same box. we in florida have decided
and worked through what works best for our miami-dade or lafayette and everybody in between so that it fits and we have those optional pieces to make it for our particular jurisdiction. >> secretary chapman, what do you think was the problem with these 20,000 ballots that were able to be counted on election day. was this printing error in printing the barcode work why would that have come up in some kind of pretest of the system? >> that was lancaster county, one county, it was a vendor issue with this printing the barcodes so when 7 am when the county started free canvassing they discovered that error that the scanner was not reading the barcode. that'swhy there and marking the balance. if we had ample pre-canvas time like florida that would have normally been called earlier . >> and on the paper issue we don't want this to become the new or next baby formula issue. when you have elections on election day you need to be
prepared for them and i think we're both this committee is very interested in that. thank you chairman . >> next up senator warner online and center crews. >> thank you madam chair and let me just from the outset say i think we all are a little concerned with full tooth andcollection election deniers were being nominated . since recently this week. i do think i've been working in a bipartisan basis and i know the chair has done great work on at least getting sure, making sure we get the electoral count act reformed and i do hope whether it comes out of the chairman and rules committee's efforts or it's a bipartisan effort that we get that reform legislation as quickly as possible. i'm going to start with miss
kirkpatrick. you've been on a current state ofplay within the postal service . can you talk a little bit about if you don't have good coordination between the states and postal system, how that can interfere in an election. i believe there are n certain states that their vote by mail ballots actually can't even be processed by the post office is sorting machines. is that accurate as well? >> part of the challenge is that many of the materials being produced by election officials don't follow standards and best practices and they are not automation compatible. what that means is that they're not able to flow through thenormal mail stream and have to be manually processed . there sustained or there's so much context on the envelopes that they get slowed down in system and don't follow those best practices. those are big challenges. the other big challenge that really conflicts with quite
frankly common sense is that we have 19 states that allow for a voter to request about within the timeframe that the mail should be returned. they recognize ballots mailed back seven days before the election and 19 states allow for about to be requested even up to and including the monday before tuesday's election so that's just not possible for the postal service to deliver in that timeframe. >> i appreciate that and i know i think some of the expiratory measures that took place in 2020 to ensure that you don't, you don't change drop boxes, change post office locations. change mail locations in the weeks leading up that you have appropriate tweets and making sure again that ballots are treated as first-class mail . i've worked with rob portman on the number of these issues on a fairly isolated but fairly targeted set of reforms to make sure that those americans that choose
to vote by mail art inhabited and prohibited.i think while we can't mandate a single type of ballots there ought to be some type of incentive so that those ballots that are vote by mail have maybe of the different colors of the post office workers can easily sort and make sure those balance are appropriately processed. mister hewitt i thought your comments about some of these misinformation and disinformation stories are chilling . i would point out to my colleagues that literally today there is a meeting taking place in washington about misinformation and disinformation that includes parliamentarians some house members are going but members of the british parliament and many members of parliament, members from australia new zealand and other european countries. this plague is happening across democracies everywhere.
often times with supported by foreign adversaries not necessarily nthe foreign box that are spreading information often times is just amplifying misinformation that may have been originated for example here in america. but it is a problem even with dhs with their rollout on the recent pretty ineptly this is a problem we can move away from. mister chapman i guesswhat i want to ask you is you talk about your testimony directed towards voters . what about misinformation, disinformation might be directed towards election workers. local elected officials and how do we guard against that taking place where suddenly you've got election workers affecting their ability to do their job. are you seeingthat starting
to take place ?>> in pennsylvania i think the largest bit of misinformation anddisinformation we're seeing is around the elections process itself . around for instance ballot drop off boxes and whether or not voters can drop off their ballot which of course they can. so it's not really directed at the election workers per se but more about the process of voting and elections but at the department of state we've worked closely with our counties on education campaigns . so we can be transparent about what the process is to legislate a vote, cast their ballots and all. also the option voters have to return that ballot. >> i guess i know my time is up but i think the chair and ranking member. they work hard to try to protect election workers from abuse. i do think the sophistication of some of the misinformation i'm going to have to look at those election workers
themselves being victims of some of the disinformation how we sort through this will take us all putting our heads together. >> thank you very much. senator. >> much of our discussion is about elections today would iomake george orwell brush. democrats have routinely taken decrying what they call misinformation or disinformation by which they mean any information that is politically inconvenient to democrats . that was illustrated most powerfully by president biden's minister of truth. this new appointee to meet a so-called disinformation board, a government board who has been a while bipartisan her entire life who has repeatedly amplified things that were in fact disinformation. things like the bogus and fraudulent steel dossier she was happy to amplify. she's also advocated silencing and censoring things that were unquestionably true like hunter biden's laptop which
was politically inconvenient to democrats at the time of f the election . just a moment ago a senator from virginia made a reference to election deniers which is another interesting bit of nomenclature democrats have adopted. i find it interesting that they now democrats are denouncing hillary clinton . there denouncing because hillary clinton maintained the election was stolen from them. stacy abrams apparently still thinks of georgia so the hypocrisy that our democratic friends bring to this issue is truly stunning. mister wilcox, a year ago 21 democrats senators said joe general garland letter. >> ..
>> in the 21st century. this rhetoric deliberately racially hi divisive, insend is area rhetoric, can have real consequences. can youd speak, mr. will wilco, to how this affects our elections? >> l i think misinformation the, regardless of left or right, is bad for our election institution. you know, my concern and economy my colleagues' concern as elections professionals is the accuracy, the security and the ability to vote. once again, i go back to our statement earlier, we want to make it easy to vote and hard to
cheat. and however that is accomplished is what we want as elections administrators. >> so the last are major bipartisan examination of voter fraud was the carter-baker commission. this was a bipartisan commission. it was chaired by former democrat president jimmy carter and former republican secretary of statete james baker. they produced a report. that record concluded that voter fraud was real, it was a problem, it was persistent, and it needed to be combated. it also put forth a series of recommendations in terms of how to fight voter fraud, things -- common sense ideas that the vast majority of americans support like photo id for voting. you need photo id to get on an airplane, to drive a car, you need photo the id to get a we're, or if you're a teenager, to get into a movie. and yet our democrat friends routinely filibuster and oppose any efforts to have photo the ids despite the fact that the the overwhelming majority of
americans sport them. can carter-baker or commission also talked about one of the most frequent sources of voter fraud is mail-in ballots, that mail-in ballots historically have invited fraud. now, i will say, unfortunately, we're seeing democrats across the country pushing for universal mail-in balloting. and it's almost as if democrats took the carter-baker commission, read the recommendations on how to stop fraud and inverted them, said let's do the opposite. whatever would stop fraud, let's do the opposite, and let's do more of the conduct that produces fraud. you know, we're sitting here in pennsylvania, we still don't know who won the republican nominationon for senator because we're still waiting on ballots coming in. many states managed to actually conduct their elections on the day of elections, and yet democrats keep moving in the direction of election chaos.
secretary ardo -- ardoin, some have criticized texas' s.b. 1 because it -- because it slows the expansion of mail-in voting. can you tell this committee about the security and fraud concerns potentially posed by mail-in voting? >> yes, senator. the concern in louisiana that we have found is that the concern is that we can't quickly enough process the ballots to make certain that the the absentee cans are from the individuals that are asking asking for the ballots. we have to compare signatures which requires additional equipment for us to be able to electronically do that. rightt now we're doing it eyeball, in person. that slows down the process of being able to get individuals their ballots. the concern is -- which we
passed a law with regards to ballot harvesting, our concern was that the political campaigns, political parties and nonprofit toes, 501c 3s and 4s and political action committees could manipulate the process, and we didn't want to have that happen in the presidential election. so we papassed bipartisanly that piece of legislation, and it was signed into law by a democratic governor. so we did not have the issues that we've seen around the country that a lot of harvesting was done in terms of turnout for an election. because ofrm that, we feel more confident where we are. we make certain that we promote in the-person voting. we -- in-person voting. 93% of those ballots cast in 2020 were in person. people did not mind standing in lines. it was at the height of covid. we have seven days of ten hours of voting for early voting, and
we have for federal elections a 14-hour voting day. so believe we've given our citizens ample time to vote in person. and with this shortage of paper, we believe that we should be promoting in-person voting as much as possible. it's also the best way for the voter to make serb that -- certain that their vote was accurately cast and counted. >> thank you. >> thank you. thank you, senator cruz. i'm going to turn in the hearing in general over to senator merkley. senator padilla's up next. i know senator ossoffoff -- osesoff is here, and i did want to thank the witnesses, you've been incredible. and i will hope you note senator bankrupt and i had disagreements on the freedom to vote act that i strongly believe we should pass, but we agree that there should be some federal funding for elections. we've worked together on that in the past. we believe, as we've stated, that election firms, local election officials should be protected and should not be the
subject of threats and violence. and we believe in our democracy, in a fair administration of our elections. so with that spirit, and we believe in trying to fix the paper shortage for the secretaries of state. secretary ardoin. there's many other things we agree with on as well, but we wring that -- bring that spirit to this hearing as we go forward into another election. i just want to thank all of you for raising these important issues. thank you very much, senator padilla, of the great and large state of california, you're next. thanks. >> thank you, madam chair. i i thinknk in a similar spiriti will resist the temptation to engage ors calculate partisan rhetoric in this hearing. out ofic respect for the topic t hand. out of respect for the professionalism of the witnesses that are before us. and out of respect, frankly, for the american people, everybody observing this hearing.
mr. wilcox, i've heard you say a couple of times now -- [inaudible] the question yet, the catch phrase i've heard far too often, we just want to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. sounds good, it's a great sound bite. and it's not your fault that i've heard it far too often in this committee as a pretext the, frankly, from some of my colleagues who, look, i agree, we should be making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. if you look at the policies, if you look at data, we've got the hardest part down because voter fraud in america is exceedingly rare. what i get frustrate thed by is the easier to vote part because there are proven practices that are secure but can afford eligible voters more opportunity to conveniently register, stay registered and actually the cast their ballot, have their ballot counted. this is notun directed at you, t the level of anybody observing this conversation.
because i agree, you've all touchedded on it, election security and ballot access should not be mutually exclusive. they should not. i don't think they are. and as a former secretary of state of california, the california model, i think, is exhibit a on how we can do it, do it right. every voter in america deserves the same protections, the same options for participating in our democracy. now, there's a lot to unpack in the hearing here today. appreciate the concerns everyone raised about poll workers. recruit, retention, safety. i'm not going to ask a question about that. we've talked about that. vote by mail, an expansion to vote by mail including the security steps of signature verification, opportunities to cure. i won't get into details because with we have in previous hearings, and we'll continue to have the conversation. even the value and merit of ball
if ott develop drop boxes for voters to return their ballot. the early voting opportunities that canning be done securely and afford additional options for voters to participate. i will have a secondor questionn election disinformation. i want to talk about security for a second. not cybersecurity and not staff training, not voting systems and the guidelines and security standards for voting systems that you continue to elevate. and that's just not paper ballots, but a different angle on the supply chain question that has been raised specifically about paper. now, a voter watching at home may say, wait a minute, can't you just go to the the office depot and print ballots? not voter information guides, specifically patient as it pertains to printing of ballots. let me direct it to ms. patrick. and one of the secretaries, if
you want to chime in afterwards. some of the technical environments -- requirements that people should be aware of inni terms of printing of ballos that voters should be aware of to reinforce their faith in the process including certification of ballot printers. >> thank you, senator. a joy to testify before you again. i would say that one of the things to remember is that the sophistication of our tabulation equipment is very high, and because of that, we need a high quality of paper because we need to make surery that this is pristine paper, it doesn't have filaments, other things that can capture thean light9 and in some way misrepresent a voter's mark as an errant mark, what have you.rs so you can't can just go down to staples or office depot and use any sort of paper, you have to have a specific type of paper that is of high quality. and thatat is always and traditionally obtained here in north america from the north american mills.
so that's part of the tension is, that it's a very unique paper product. it's a high quality product, and in this time when the mills have turned their processing over to core division, it -- corps division, it's becoming more and more difficult toking obtain. even though they have 26,000-pound if rolls, that will go through in about an hour and a half or two hours in their processing plants. so it is of great need. >> and as a former secretary of state, i invite people to search their state's web site and see theeo public information on what the criteria is for the quality of paper, the certification process, who those certified printers are and to make themselves less vulnerable to misinformation like we're looking for a bamboo filament here, and i'll just leave it at that. i think that is critical and, again, for voters to know it's
not just about how clear the print job is to fill in the bubble or draw an arrow, something like that, but the technology the on the back with end used to accurately count their ballot. time is up, so a question and ongoing conversation on disinformation. for all the concerns that have been raised, i think there's a unique additional challenge of combating, let alone trying to prevent disinformation on voters who prefer aio language other tn gish of which there are many not just -- english not just in california, but across the country. either of the secretaries, can you speak just for a minute on concerns or recommendations on how to battle disinformation for linguistly-diverse voters? >> sure, i can take that. in pennsylvania we, of course, follow section 203 of the voting rights act and actually this is the first election where philadelphia will provide voting materials in chinese.
so we have been working at the department of state to sport philadelphia county, also statewide to make sure that all of our voter education information is translated into chinese. we are reaching voters where they are, that we're partnering with stakeholderin groups. but we also go above and beyond just the languages that were required -- we're required to provide language assistance in and, you know, try to also provide it to the most common spoken languages within the commonwealth. there is still more work to be done, but we're definitely on the right track to make sure we are providing education information in every language possible. >> thank you, secretary chapman. before turning it back over to the chair, just to acknowledge my experience as sec tear of statement -- secretary of state in california was the best way to ballot it was to try to get ahead of it with accurate information. misinformation, disinformation doesn't just exist on social media, but it's the predominantly on social media.
and from other hearings, other committees that we've had in the congress, the safety measures in place by social media platforms, helpful certainly not enough, and that's in english with. in languages other than english, leaves a hell of a lot more to be desired. so we have our work cut out for us. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you. thank you very much. and and we so appreciate your experience as secretary of state and bringing that to bear on these election issues. i thought i'd turn first to you, mr. hewitt. one of the challenges i've seen over time is that there's a number of ways to manipulate election day. and that is, if you want an area to vote, you can create smaller precincts, and if you don't want them to vote, you create larger precincts so there's a bigger crowd at the voting place.
you can change the location of the present -- precinct voting place. we've also seen occasions where people put out information that was misinformation about where the election day precinct place was located. actually, even seen occasions where people put out information about the election day. so sorry you missed it versions or, oh, hope you vote next week, the week after the actual election date, and mislead hemo-- people. all of these are challenges. are you familiar with those types of efforts to manipulate election data, make it easier for people in some precincts or counties to vote versus other precincts? >> we certainly have seen those, senator merkley, throughout the country. i wanted to distinguish what you may call the single precincts, what you may call mega-precincts from some other context where it makes sense. in my home state of louisiana, we saw them out of necessity because so many polling sites were destroyed, right?
if schools, other places, what have you. that was necessity. it's much different to constantly shift and change. and what we know is all it takes sometimes is a few minutes or maybe an hour ofs misdirection when people are voting especially because around the country people tend to vote on tuesday like louisiana where we have 7-day elections for state elections. so it just takes an ounce of misdirection to frustrate the entireou democratic process fora voter to go elsewhere. i'd be remiss if i did not say, senator merkley, and add that in a reregime of preclearance in the previously-covered jurisdictions, those kinds of changes would have been caught, by and large, if they were reported timely as they should be and submitted for preclearance or if they were raised by advocates. >> thank you. thank you. and, ms. patrick, one of the statistics that struckne me abot georgia is that in the last election -- so this was before any election law changed -- that
the waiting time in predominantly black precincts versus predominantly white precincts, the waiting time was 8-10 times as long, the average wait time, as in the predominantly white precincts. are you familiar with that statistic? >> i am, senator. >> so is it, is that correct? >> it is correct. i think it's also important to take into consideration the distinction between you are urban -- urban and rural jurisdictions and some of the constraints that occur with election administration in those situations. but there's definitely disparity across the country particularly when voters are restricted in the options that they have in order to vote. >> and, ms. patrick are, in oregon we've had vote for mail for a couple decades, and our expert from louisiana, secretary of state from louisiana, said they were having trouble verifying the awe then disty of the request for the absentee ballot by examining the
signatures. now, before my state had vote by mail where we sent a ballot to everyone, we had -- upon requesh difficulty. we could figure it outy. in oren more than two decades ago a, isn't it possible for every jurisdiction to figure out how to issue an ab is she seven tee ballot with integrity? >> two decades ago i was also searfying signatures in maricopa pa county. so there are absolutely procedures and policies in place all across the country that any jurisdiction can adopt, and they're widely shared amongst the states and local officials. >> i would invite any election officials who are having difficulty figuring out how to compare signatures or verify requests for absentee ballot, we're happy to give a seminar in my state. we've been a leader on vote by mail.de ms. path patrick -- ms. patrick can setd, up that seminar.
we compare the signature on the ballot to ott envelope to the signature on record, and if there is a difference in the signatures, the voter is contacted and said, hey, come down and verify your ballot. does that system work pretty well? >> it does, senator. and i would say that it is not onlys. good customer service, it is a security measure. very often when we talk about curing, we talk about it as good customer service, but it is a security measure to find out why is that signature missing, why is the signature different. and in my thousands of voters a-- i called in the almost over a decade, i never had an instance where i uncovered a fraudulent signature. i found that voters were wearing a cast, they had had a stroke, they were aging x their signatures had changed. but this was good to know why, in fact, that signature was omitted or was different. >> i can tell you that after coming to the senate, my signature has changed because i only sign things occasionally in my previous life, and now i do it every day. finish and so i'm waiting for that call that my signature no
longer matches and i need to come down and verify it. senator hagerty is with us and is next in line. >> thanknk you, senator merkley. and thank you to all of our guests today. i'd like to start the out talking about the georgia voting laws. last year you characterized changes to georgia's election laws as, quote, limiting access to early voting. yet we're currently in the third week of early voting in georgia, and they're seeing record early voting. in fact, early voting is up 217% from the last midterm election. and it's even up 155% from the 2020 presidential primary. so i want to ask you, mr. hewitt, do you still think that the new georgia law limits access to early voting? >> thank you,, senator. look, we're still analyzing numbers that are coming in, but what we know is that anything that requires voters en masse to have to change to now find alternative ways to voting whether restricted from being able to do the what they once
did or what they were accustomedded to doing is inherently problematic. we think there's still some challenges with mail if voting as well in georgia and elsewhere. but here's the thing, the frame for us -- and this is, you know, if you want to talk about the lawsuit, we can talk more here and offline as welsh -- well -- we have to ask ourselves, tell the story. why is this happening? why are these laws changing? and just because people are finding a way beyond, you know -- >> you ask the same question about why the laws and rules were changed in 2020, or does this only apply to 2021? >> that's what the key question is -- >> the evidence doesn't support that it is harder so -- to vote. i'm having a hard time with this line of logic. >> -- i would suggest because more people, you're giving me stats about more people being able to vote. how is that happening? why is that happening?
it's not as if the law that was changed was deseened to -- designed to make it easier to vote, to encourage people to vote, in fact, it was the designed to clamp down on a particular means of voting. >> i don't see the logic at all. i don't see how the logic follows through on the data. the georgia secretary of state state's office expects this record. turnout to continue. i'm shocked to hear you continue no this. disinformation is deliberately misleading information. and mal information is information used out of context. the 2021 georgia voting law expanded early voting requiring 17 days, at least 2 saturdays and gave counties to the option to offer sunday voting. would it constitute misinformation or disinformation to say that the georgia law reduced access to early voting? >> so the definitions that i've
included in my testimony are from sis saw's web site, and their misinformation is false but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm. the disinformation is deliberately created to mislead, harm or manipulate a person, social group, organization or country. and then the mal-information is based op on facts but used out of context in an effort to mislead, harm or manipulate. so i think every particular statement would need to be reviewed to see which one of those categories it falls under if it does fall under any of those individual categories. >> well, i would like to ask you again, you just cited the definition of those statements, does the georgia 2021 voting law which requires 17 days of early voting, at least 2 sundays, is it misinformation or disinformation to say that that law reduced access to early voting? >> my understanding of that law,
senator, is that that is only one facet of the law. so to state that the law in it totality falls into only one of these categories based on just one small faction of the law, i don't feel that i'm can haved -- >> will let me go to another statement. again, pertaining to the georgia election law. the 2021 georgia election law did not change the law allowing counties to have the polls open there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. yet president biden claims, quote: it's sick. deciding you're going to end voting at 5:00. among the outrageous parts of thisrn new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can't cast their vote after their shift is over. this law doesn't end voting at 5:00.th even "the washington post" gave that statement four pinocchios, which is a whopping false falsehood. so would you characterize this statement as misinformation or disinformation or mal-information? >> i never try to ascribe
motivations to individual statements by anyone -- >> was motivation required in all of those definitions? >> i would say it's not, but what i would continue to finish is i wouldn't ascribe motivations. if i took the it on my face, it's the not exactly accurate from what you're telling me. i'm not a specialist in georgia's raw or the most recen- >> well, the difference between 5:00 and 7:00 doesn't require special expertise -- >> what i was trying to finish and say -- my apologies -- is if a statement is incorrect, these categories then take the next step to say why is that information being shared, and it is ascribing motivation. so if the individual's saying something that isva false becaue they believe it to be false and they're saying it for a purpose to spreadau that misinformation, are they saying something that is incorrect and false because they're unaware that it's incorrect and false? so that's where i don't feel that i'm in if a position to be able to qualify what that category is because i don't know what the motivation was or the
understanding of the individual -- >> well, the double speak here is shocking, but the motivation, i think, is clear. it's to enflame. i think it's shame. i s end my time, i yield back te floor. thank you, mr. chair. >> our ranking member. >> thank you, senator merkley. let me just ask a couple of questions about cybersecurity. if that was covered while i was gone, we'll just repeat whatever those the answers may have been. particularly the two current election authorities, secretary ardoinri and mr. wilcox, what he your states done between, say, 2018 and now to try to both secure the system and create a stronger impression that both the voter system and the voter registration system is less subject tost any if interference than people might have been led to believe?
>> thank you, senator, for that question.pe what louisiana has done is we have a centralized management system with no remote access from vendors. we have a third party that's monitoring all behavior on our attacks on our web site to see if there's any certain behavior and to mitigate those attacks immediately. that's a 24/7 process. we own our own transmission lines,s, and we monitor those en if they're not being used every single day of the year and all hours of the day. additionally, we work with our local partners in order to provide them the latest information we have. i will are tell you with, senator, if we could get more substantive information more quickly disseminated information with regards to activity that is out there, we would be better served both as states and local
level. because many times when we are called in to higher security level clearance briefings, we're finding out information that we've already read in news outlets. >> right. so you're saying this is something the federal government could definitely do and do by just designating somebody in your office and maybe other election offices around the state to be clear to get information that somebody in the federal government thinks could be a problem for your state or that jurisdiction? >> we do have individuals in each of our offices including the chief elections officer that are designated for this information. the issue is -- >> getting it? >> -- getting it, because it has to go through odni, fbi, cia. it has to go through a process of declassification to a level that we can get. by the time it goes through that, i guess it's the sanitized, i think is the
terminology. and the problem is, is by the time it get down to that, we've already heard about it. >> got it mr. will wilcox -- mr? >> i concur with the secretary. we've done a hot of the same kind -- lot of the same type security,f cybersecurity procedures that me mention -- he mentioned. we've done them at the local level as well based on our needs in the state of florida. so the vast majority of us have implemented these different types of cybersecurity suites. sweeps. the federal government was extremely beneficial with their granting that allowed us to their funding of cyst saw and allowing us to do some cybersecurity things that we could not have done, all 67 in the state of florida, on our own. so that's been wonderful. the other part of this is education. we've been able to -- we have to understand that in a
jurisdiction that has a small number of registered voters, the supervisor there is the database administrator. he or she is the vote-by-mail coordinator, they're the person that does early voting, they do all of these things. and having them become a cybersecurity expert is a major challenge. but we have been able to educate our membership and bring the entire level -- we're able to usete terminology today, phishig or whaling or any of these that we all now currently understand that three years ago we did not have -- >> do those small counties have somebody to turn to at the state election authority's office or -- >> yes, sir. in the state of florida, the secretary of state's office has put together what's called a cyber navigator program where they have 5-7 different individuals with different pieces of the state to where
anyone that lives in that district can contact their cyber navigator to help them respond on, you know, even rfps, requests for proposal for security type things and best practices to unsure all of our jurisdictions -- insure all of our jurisdictions are at least at aon minimal level. >> secretary chapman, do you have the same concerns about not getting the information as quickly as you need to get it from the federal government on cyber and other similar issues many -- >> key members of our staff do have security clearances, and we're in constant communication with department of s homeland security, so we, you know, receive that information on an expedited basis. >> and then are you able to constantly communicate it9 to other people around the state who need to know? >> yes. with the counties -- we actually have biweekly meetings of counties. if anything is related to the particular county, we speak with them right away. so our federal and state partners are very strong when it
comes to cybersecurity. >> and i think my last question, ms. patrick. on the urban-rural, you mentioned urban precincts and ruralyo precincts, and i wasn't quite sure how that related to the waiting in line, but i'm assuming one of the ways what you wait -- it relates to that usually rural precincts have a lot fewer people that are going to vote there because they have toto travel a lot further, so by definition there would almost always be less waiting in those precincts, was that the point you wereit trying to make? >> that's certainly part of it, senator. the other, as i'm sure you remember from your days as an official, urban populations move more frequently, and given whatever the existing voter registration regime is in that state, you can slow down the line by virtue of not having an updated voter registration, so now you're a provisional voter,
provisional ballot depending on whether or notot the state has automatic or automated or online registration. it can thehe slow down the procs particularly in jurisdictions whereow they either move more frequently, and i would say that one caveat and distinction between the rural and the urban is when you talk about voters in indian country or less vase land. there the challenge is the -- reservationad land. there the challenge is the sourcing itself, because it's sorely lacking in this country. >> right. i think there are election authorities looking for better ways than signature verification to determine how to process a ballot unless someone has reason to question, and if you -- are you doing that in either one of your three states, mr. wilcox? >> yes, we are, in the state of florida. we do have some automated signature verification, basically the same technology banking industry uses with validating checks. so we are using that in some of our jurisdictions in the state of florida, --
>> we're not using it at this time because with we're in the process of determining what type of new voting system that we will bevo moving to. we have mostly touch screen or touch voting dres, direct -- [inaudible] electronic voting machines, and our mail absentee voting program has not expanded itself as most states have just because our voters are used to voting in person. we had the highest number ever in louisiana during the presidential election, but it didn't -- can it was the only 7% of our voters voted by absentee ballot. >> one of my personal thoughts on voting in person as opposed to five weeks earlier is you to know a whole lot more about the campaign, the candidate and the issues. i've always thought moving that
decision earlier makes it hard for candidates to figure out how they're going to communicate with you t what they think the campaign is all about. but there's not a lot of sympathy for candidates in this process, i do get that. i will say on the voting location, you know, if you do haven a significant populate ad urban location, as i'm sure all of you have figured out, one thing you can do if you've got room at that location, is to died the precinct on big election days alphabetically or some other way where you have more opportunities and you don't have more locations than you need on all other elections if it's not a travel problem. now, my favorite comment anybody if ever made to me when i was a local election official about my poor if judgment in moving a voting location was one of the party committeewell came in to me and said you couldn't have possibly put this voting are location in a worst worse place. it is too far for me to walk and
a too close for me to drive. so i totally failed to meet the standard where it met either of those standards. chairman, thank you for letting me ask a second round of questions. >> thank you very much, senator, bringing your experience to bear because not everyone has had that personal experience of being engaged in those issues. did want to ask secretary happenman in pennsylvania you've just gone through a primary election, and did you have vote by mail in that election? >> yes. >> and did you have any difficulty in figuring out how to send out absentee ballots or ballot for vote by mail to citizens of pennsylvania? >> no. >> and do you use signature-match if verification as a way to make sure that the ballot is being mailed in by the same person whose name is on the ballot? >> we check for the signature and date, yes. >> andre have you had a large number of cases where
individuals essentially voted somebody else's ballot in. >> no. >> have you had any? is you -- have you prosecuted anybody foror that? >> we don't prosecute, that's something the attorney general does,t, but, no. >> okay. i'm just checking because so far i've had the chance to ask many secretaries of states around the country, and it all comes down to you're more likely to be the struck by lightning than to find a case that somebody deliberately voted somebody else's ballot. we have had cases where people have moved and they had an earlier primary in one state, maybe i could vote in two primaries, but that is not an intentional voter fraud situation. i remain very concerned about changes that are making it much harder to vote. i was noting that in georgia between 2012 and 2018, 214 voting precincts were eliminated.
and when they were eliminated, people had to figure out where to go in order to vote because their old precinct location was eliminated. and then georgia with changed the law so if you go to the wrong precinct voting place, which is much plaintiff likely after the old voting place was eliminated, you can't vote at that location. and you have to travel to the new location which means quite a lot of difficulty in figuring out where that is. there's provision after provision after provision including can cutting in half the time that you have to apply for early voting or for an absentee ballot, and you can just count them off, more than a dozen. ido think we should all be workg together to make it easier to vote. i hear advocates are who are making it harder to vote saying this makes it easier to vote. well, let's just have an honest discussion about changes in laws that are designed to make it
more difficult because it's the wrong way to go. and not to use fake issues of fraud as a justification for trying to disenfranchise people. there's no way in any state it should be ten times as long to wait in a predominantly black precinct as it is in predominantly white precinct. that is discrimination, and it needs to end, and it's our responsibility to make sure that there are fair laws around this country. it was the year 1891 that the act came from the house that said we're going to make sure following the end of goingtruction that we're to have fair opportunity to register the, fair opportunity to vote and integrity in counting those votes across the entire country, and that bill, unfortunately, was filibustered here in the senate and killed leading to 75 years in which black americans were disenfranchised before the 1965 voting rights act. it is the our some to continue
to address -- to continue to address this challenge. i thank ranking member blunt and chair klobuchar for holding this hearing. we need to keep working on this critical issue central to a democratic republic. i appreciate the election officials bringing their experience to bear here today and their strategies, hearing the strategies to improve the security of elections. and i commend mr. hewitt and msg advocates for if election workers and voters in their ongoing work, including testifying today. the testimony that we have heard today makes clear that we must continue to work together to overcome the challenges voters and election workers are facing this year including insuring that state and local governments have access to federal resources, that election workers are safe and feel safe and that voters across the country can easily cast their ballots. i look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on this committee to provide elections
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