A plan released this week by a Stanford University group that includes former top government and tech industry officials aims to be the equivalent of the 9/11 Commission report for election security.
Like the 9/11 report, which fundamentally reorganized the nation’s homeland security and intelligence structure after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, “Securing American Elections” aims big. It argues Russia’s 2016 election interference operation was an attack on fundamental American values, and should provoke the government and private sector to step up “defenses against efforts to erode confidence in democracy.”
The report’s 108 pages include 45 recommendations ranging from securing voting systems and combating online disinformation campaigns to negotiating major election security norms with allies and punishing adversaries who violate them.
Like the 9/11 commission leaders who spent years pushing the government to fully implement their reforms amid partisan bickering, this group is preparing for a fierce lobbying campaign to turn its recommendations into reality,said Nate Persily, a report author and director of Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center.
That will be an uphill climb. “We’re not naive. We recognize that the topic of Russian intervention in the 2016 election provokes a partisan reaction and there’s a partisan allergy to some types of recommendations,” Persily told me. “But we believe Democrats and Republicans can unite around what are some common-sense reforms.”