The argument continues, despite FBI reports indicating that Russia attempted to interfere with our 2016 presidential election. The dispute persists in spite of former FBI director Robert Mueller’s stark warning during his testimony before the U.S. House, on July 24. At that moment, Mueller indicated that Russia had attempted to influence our election process and is doing so, “as we sit here.”

Unfortunately, we have become fixated on either proving or refuting Russia’s impact on our elections.

Given the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s reports, and the nearly two-year-long probe led by Mueller, I have a difficult time dismissing the FBI’s and Mueller’s reports.

Mueller’s warning that Russia has, is now, and plans to interfere with our 2020 presidential election means that we should stop arguing and start working toward ensuring the security of our election process.

Instead, Hogan Gidley, an administration spokesperson, went on Fox News, July 26, and proclaimed, “It’s now been proven by every metric that Russian meddling had no effect on the outcome of the (2016) election,” -Vox, July 26. I am not certain that every metric considers how effective Russian propaganda dispensed on social media might have been. Of course, it is difficult to measure something as vague as propaganda’s value.

Fortunately, some in Congress are making an effort to protect our election process.

“Not three hours after Mueller finished testifying, Mark Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, went to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent to pass legislation requiring presidential campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of assistance from agents of foreign governments.” -The Washington Post, July 26.

Then, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) tried, on July 25, to obtain consent to pass a House bill that requires using paper ballots, plus includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission.

The bill, which passed the House 225-184, only received one Republican vote.

As expected, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) rejected the bill, saying Schumer was trying to pass “partisan legislation.”

“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” McConnell said.

“Schumer argued that if McConnell didn’t like that bill ‘let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.’” --The Hill, July 27.

Bravo! I may not always agree with Sen. Schumer; however, his suggestion is the only sensible one I have heard.

We cannot allow the vast gap between the Republican and Democratic parties to stand in the way of saving our form of government. Imperative to our nation’s survival is the integrity of our elections. If we succumb to divisiness, Russia and Putin win, and they win right now!

It will become simple for any hostile nation to meddle in U.S. elections.

Apparently, we — or at least the majority of us — are no longer arguing about whether Russia did or did not try to meddle in our 2016 election. Now, the argument is about Russian’s effectiveness in that effort.

Okay, let us assume Russia had no impact on our election. Does that mean we should rest easy? “Hey, Russia tried, but, umm, it failed. Move on.” We can neither prove nor disprove Russia’s effectiveness.

What we can predict is that Putin and Russia will expand their game, improve their strategy and, in all likelihood, be able to interfere ruthlessly in 2020.

Time is running out. We need to get busy — together — and we need to do it now! We only have a little over a year to upgrade and to put security measures in place. I suspect that since the election process in all 50 of our states was attacked in 2016, that all 50 states will need some upgrading, doubtless some will require a lot.

Below see suggestions from Americans for Progress. Note: This list was issued nearly two years ago.

Americans for Progress

August 16, 2017

“This issue brief details nine recommendations to address some of the most serious vulnerabilities in America’s election infrastructure:

  1. Require voter-verified paper ballots or records for every vote cast.
  2. Replace old voting machines.
  3. Conduct robust post-election audits to confirm election outcomes.
  4. Update and secure outdated voter registration systems and e-poll books.
  5. Require minimum cybersecurity standards for voter registration systems and other pieces of voting infrastructure.
  6. Perform mandatory pre-election testing on all voting machines, as well as continuous vulnerability analysis.
  7. Expand threat information sharing, including comprehensive threat assessments accompanied by mandatory reporting requirements.
  8. Elevate coordination between states and federal agencies on election security, including real-time notification of security breaches and threats.
  9. Provide federal funding for updating election infrastructure.”

The right and ability to conduct free and fair elections transcend partisan politics.

Our elected officials have a monumental task ahead of them.

We need to encourage them to come together and to get busy!

Once again, we need to write, call and email our representatives.

Pat Nevada, whose opinions are her own, lives near Gettysburg.