Candidate Question Time: How should Congress deal with efforts by foreign powers to hack elections?

Each week until the Va-10 congressional district Democratic Party primary election on June 12, The Blue View will ask all six candidates to respond to a key question on an important issue in 100 words or less. This week, five of the candidates responded.

This week’s question: How should Congress deal with efforts by foreign powers, such as Russia, to hack elections and other essential systems in our country?

Answers below from candidates, in alphabetical order:

Julia Biggins

Let us start with a simple premise: 21st Century crimes need 21st Century laws to combat them. At this time, the cost of engaging in a cybercrime is far less severe than engaging in blue collar crime. One needs to be cautious about intruding on the rights and privacies of individuals, even when they are saying the most vitriolic of things. However, there are no Constitutional protections for bots or foreign agents attempting to manipulate our democracy, and such behavior must be punished harshly and preferably prevented with an investment in cyber protection from both the government and the private sector.



Alison Friedman
It is unacceptable to allow foreign powers to disrupt our democratic process or to infiltrate and attack our infrastructure. We must bolster our cybersecurity defenses with improved intrusion detection and secure our voting systems by increasing election auditing. We should also increase funding to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Division so that they may better assist in the defense of the power grid, water treatment facilities, state voter registration systems, and other areas where we may be vulnerable. 2016 was a wakeup call; we cannot allow another disruption of our core institutions.



Dan Helmer

It’s undeniable that Russia meddled in our elections and is going to try to do so again. Under the current administration, they know that there is no risk of pushback. The most important thing we can do is to elect a Democratic Congress that will impose sanctions and force the administration to impose them. When there is no consequence for their actions, foreign powers will continue to interfere in our electoral process. The only way to counter their attacks is to elect a Congress that has the courage to hold them accountable.



Paul Pelletier

The Cyber attacks, like Russia’s 2016 hacks, demonstrate the need to ensure the integrity of future elections. Protecting our democracy should be a bipartisan issue. We must work to identify and counter vulnerabilities in our current voting system. I support Senators Gillibrand and Graham’s bipartisan legislation establishing a National Commission on Cybersecurity of the United States Election Systems to identify prevention measures necessary to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and review foreign cyber interference worldwide. The sanctity of our federal, state and local election infrastructure is at stake. In Congress, I’ll work across the aisle to protect our democracy from foreign interference.


Lindsey Davis Stover

I believe that there are a few things that Congress could do to prevent further election tampering. First, we could ban foreign entities from running digital and TV ads that mention candidates. Congress should fund a nationwide program to secure election systems and voter registration, and work directly with state governments to reach expanded standards of security. Finally, Congress should declare and stick to rigid sanctions against any foreign government that attempts to influence an American election.



Next week’s question: If you are elected, how will you fight back against the ongoing Republican war on the environment?

Compiled by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, a member of the Dranesville District Democratic  Committee and Virginia Democracy Forward. A former columnist and recipe editor for The Washington Post, she now writes a weekly column for


See candidate statements here.