By Ann G. Daniels
Deadline: until our Senators get off their seats to protect our elections –
Are you anxious about foreign interference in our elections? Angry that Russia interfered to put the Popular-Vote-Loser-in-Chief in the White House? Furious that the Senate acquitted him of abuse of power in his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and harm his campaign? Worried about what’s going on right now in the 2020 presidential race?
If not, you should be. And if you are – here’s something you can do about it.
The Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, introduced by California’s Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) as H.R. 4617 in the House and by Amy Klobuchar as S.2669 in the Senate, “establishes a duty to report election interference from foreign entities, applies existing campaign advertising requirements to online advertisements, and generally limits political spending and election interference by foreign entities.” The House has passed the bill. It’s languishing in the Senate, although you’d think this would be a nice, easy thing for those Senators who just couldn’t vote to convict Trump but at least have the guts to go on record against foreign interference in elections. What’s up? You guessed – Mitch McConnell’s sitting on it. And surprisingly, our Senators have neither co-sponsored the bill nor taken any action to push him to bring it to a vote in the Senate.
What you can do:
Tell our Senators that if they don’t do everything they can to protect our elections, they shouldn’t be in the Senate. We need them to sponsor the SHIELD Act and force votes – like we just saw them do during the impeachment trial. Forcing votes on the bill won’t guarantee it passes, but it will get their Republican colleagues on the record.
What to say:
My name is _____, my zip code is _______, and I’m a member of Indivisible East Bay. I want Senator _____ to do everything she can to protect our elections from foreign interference. I’m disappointed that she hasn’t yet sponsored the SHIELD Act, S.2669. I want her to sponsor this bill and force a vote on it. Every Senator needs to be on the record about opposing election interference – if they aren’t working against it, they shouldn’t be in the Senate.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein: (email); (415) 393-0707 • DC: (202) 224-3841
- Sen. Kamala Harris: (email); (415) 981-9369 • DC: (202) 224-3553
And then – spread the word! Tell everyone to call THEIR Senators now.
Got friends in California? Give them the info above. For friends outside of California, have them check whether their Senators are cosponsors. If so, have them call to say thank you, and if not, have them say:
My name is _____ and my zip code is _______, I want Senator _____ to do everything they can to protect our elections from foreign interference. I’m disappointed that they haven’t yet sponsored the SHIELD Act, S.2669. I want them to sponsor this bill and force a vote on it. Every Senator needs to be on the record about opposing election interference – if they aren’t working against it, they shouldn’t be in the Senate.
- Call the Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121, and ask to be connected to your Senators.
Among other things, the SHIELD Act provides:
- Political committees must report certain foreign contacts involving an offer of unlawful election assistance to the FBI and the Federal Election Commission. The bill establishes criminal penalties for violations.
- Limits and prohibitions on political spending by foreign entities.
- Candidates may not “offer … to share nonpublic campaign information with certain foreign entities.”
- Rules for political and campaign ads and communications apply to internet and digital advertisements. This includes requirements related to disclosures and contributions, and “large online platforms” – that’s you, Facebook – have to keep a public database of certain political ads.
- Prohibition of “certain deceptive audio or visual media within 60 days of an election.” (That’s also you, Facebook.)
For more background info:
- This excellent recent Slate article about the problems of election interference and the SHIELD Act
- Our background article, “Election Security IS National Security”
Ann G. Daniels’ checkered professional background includes practicing law, reproductive rights advocacy, creating web content for nonprofits and educational organizations, and teaching adult and family literacy. She also designs jewelry, teaches knitting, and sings second soprano.