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Maryland senators push for disclosure of election vendors with foreign control

Maryland’s U.S. senators asked a Senate committee today to support language requiring notice if any state election vendors come under the ownership or control of a foreign national.

A letter sent by Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee follows the disclosure in July that a Maryland election software vendor has ties to a Russian investor.

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The senators’ letter asks the committee to sponsor an amendment requiring election vendors to submit a report to the government “identifying any foreign national that directly or indirectly owns or controls the vendor, as well as any material change in ownership resulting in ownership or control by a foreign national.”

The amendment would become part of the Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan measure the committee is scheduled to consider Wednesday. The legislation requires better coordination and information among federal and state entities to prevent election hacks. It is too soon to know whether the committee will incorporate the amendment.

Maryland Reps. John Delaney and Jamie Raskin, both Democrats, and Republican Rep. Andy Harris are pushing legislation to address the issue on the House side.

Maryland General Assembly leaders learned in July that, without the state’s knowledge, a Russian investor had bought a local software vendor that maintains part of the State Board of Elections’ voter registration system.

The vendor, ByteGrid LLC, said the investor has no access to Maryland’s voting system.

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