WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are pushing critical election legislation to prevent Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections.
- RELATED: Federal officials to Florida: No signs of Russian meddling
- Rubio: "It's important for Florida ... not to be overconfident."
- Vote on election security bill postponed
However, the question still remains if the Russians have already penetrated into Florida's voting system, as Senator Bill Nelson (D) Florida suggested two weeks ago. Federal agencies said there are no new threats or a failure of Florida's election infrastructure.
Senator Marco Rubio (R) Florida, a prominent member of the Intelligence Committee, has stayed silent until now.
“We’re an inviting target now and in the future," Rubio said in an interview with Spectrum News.
In a letter to Florida election officials on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI admitted that Russians "have previously demonstrated both the intent and capability to conduct malicious cyber operations," but there is no current evidence that they have already compromised the Sunshine State's election system.
Rubio isn't going that far.
"I do worry about it," he explained. "It’s important for Florida and frankly for the whole country not to be overconfident. You’re not dealing with the run of the mill hackers. You’re dealing with a nation state."
Rubio did not confirm or deny Nelson’s recent claims that Russians have already penetrated into Florida's election system. Instead, he highlighted the letter he and Nelson sent to state officials early last month.
“We told basically every election official in Florida, all 67 counties that they should take very seriously the threat and they should fully utilize all the resources the federal government is making available to them. That’s the important take away here. All the other stuff is noise, but this is what really matters," Rubio said.
Vote on Election Security Bill postponed
The topic apparently didn’t come up in an classified briefing with the heads of DHS and the FBI on Wednesday.
“Nothing of that nature was discussed. I mean, obviously there have been some incidences that you all have reported on," Senator Bob Corker (R) Tennessee said.
This comes as a Senate committee abruptly postponed a vote on Wednesday on a bill to protect elections against cyberattacks after it became clear it did not have enough votes to advance.
“This bill was pulled. I don’t understand why. It had bipartisan support, it was timely," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D) Illinois.
The legislation was intended to streamline information sharing between federal and state agencies and provide security clearances to state election officials. However, the major hang up surrounded the bill's mandates for post-election audits.
“I think the Secure Elections Act was a good opportunity to make sure all states have that requirement to do a post-election audit and that they complete the audit prior to the certification of the vote, so you know if there are any improprieties," said Adam Abrogi, the elections program director for Democracy Fund.
Even though some state officials have been coming out against stringent audit requirements, Ambrogi with the Democracy Fund said it’s critical that Congress finds a way forward.
"Making sure there is a Congressional response to this moment is really important," Ambrogi said.
Currently, it's unclear when the Senate Rules Committee plans to consider taking action on the legislation.