Lawmakers must unite to make sure Russian interference doesn't happen again

The Baltimore Sun’s September 29 editorial, “Russian election meddling was sophisticated and pervasive — and it's not over,” highlights state-sponsored efforts by Russia to sway the 2016 election through Facebook ads and other online advertising platforms. The last election may feel like it happened just yesterday, but the next election is fast approaching and we must move quickly to put in place guidelines that prevent foreign nationals from using online advertising platforms to influence our democratic process.

Recently, I led House and Senate Democrats in sending a letter to the Federal Election Commission, urging the agency to consider new rules that can help stop foreign governments from anonymously buying online ads to spread misinformation and sow division among the American electorate. Lawmakers also have a role in enacting appropriate legislative reforms to stop hostile actors from threatening the integrity of our elections — a process I have begun with my colleagues in the House and Senate.

This could be the FEC's finest hour. And for that matter, it could be Congress’ moment to put partisanship and petty politics aside and take action — as patriots — to safeguard our democracy. This isn't about Republicans or Democrats or Independents. This is about our election process, the bedrock of our democracy, and making sure that it is protected.

John Sarbanes, Towson

The writer, a Democrat, represents Maryland’s Third Congressional District and chairs the Democracy Reform Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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