Marco Rubio Votes Down New Election-Security Funding for 2018 MidtermsEXPAND
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Marco Rubio Votes Down New Election-Security Funding for 2018 Midterms

Marco Rubio, a surrealist art project that accidentally became sentient and was elected to the U.S. Senate, spends a lot of time tweeting about how America needs to get "tough" on Vladimir Putin. If you need someone to sponsor an extremely lame amendment "trolling" Putin by renaming the Russian embassy's street in Washington after a dead Russian dissident, Marco is your guy.

But if you actually want to allocate funding to ensure the 2018 midterm elections don't get hacked by Moscow, don't count on tough-foreign-policy-wonk Rubio to stand guard. Senate Republicans today voted down a budget amendment that would have increased election security spending by $250 million with a handy assist from Rubio. The amendment needed 60 yes votes to pass — but only 50 senators, including just one Republican, voted in favor. On the other side, three GOP senators missed the vote, and all 47 others voted no.

No matter how you feel about the Russia investigation(we still don't have evidence that Russian interference actually won the election for Donald Trump), it's pretty dang clear that the Russian government absolutely wants to continue interfering in U.S. elections and that American voting systems are not particularly secure.

Rubio himself should know this, because he says Russian hackers targeted his 2016 presidential campaign before Trump beat him. Rubio now spends part of every week driving himself to distraction by tweeting about the dangers of Putin. Just last week, he warned that "Deep Fakes" — a term used to describe videos of hyperrealistic but fake public figures created using artificial intelligence (which are mostly used to make fake porn) — could trick voters into believing candidates had been filmed saying things they never said.

Rubio is allegedly quite concerned that the spooky Red Menace might use Deep Fakes to subvert American democracy, but he apparently won't spend $250 million to ensure the nation's voting systems are safe from extremely basic hacking techniques:

There's already ample evidence that Russian hackers breached voter registration systems in Rubio's home state during the presidential election. In June 2017, the Intercept reported on leaked NSA documents that showed Russian hackers had broken into VR Systems, a company that handles voter rolls for multiple states across the nation. Importantly, VR Systems does not handle voting machines themselves — just people's voter registration information.

The documents showed that Russian hackers were allegedly targeting Florida and had successfully broken into VR Systems' software, thus possibly giving the hackers the ability to edit or delete voter rolls and affect elections in Rubio's home state. This was also referenced in Robert Mueller's latest indictment filed against Russian spies earlier this summer. There's no direct evidence that anyone actually affected Florida voter rolls via this hacking, but it's pretty darn weird that a politician could stare at all of those documents and then choose to vote against election-security money.

Plus, government officials are already claiming Russians have targeted Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill's 2018 campaign.

But if you ask Republicans, they'll say one of two things: For one, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said today that he and other Republicans voted down the funding amendment because the government already allocates $380 million for voting security that they claim hasn't been fully spent or accounted for yet. And Rubio seems more concerned with levying actual sanctions against the Russian government — which could help or, given Rubio's track record with nearly everything, could also destabilize world politics even further.

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