Senate Rules Committee considers elections and AI legislation ahead of 2024 General Elections

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Maxx Silvan

Legislative Associate
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Paige Mellerio

Associate Legislative Director – Finance, Pensions & Intergovernmental Affairs
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Seamus Dowdall

Associate Legislative Director – Telecommunications & Technology

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Key Takeaways

On May 15, the U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee held a business meeting in which it considered the following legislation on the intersection of election administration and artificial intelligence (AI):

These bills, authored by Senate Rules Committee Chair Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), have bipartisan support and were all reported favorably by committee to the full Senate. The consideration of this legislation coincides with the release of a bipartisan AI policy roadmap by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-Idaho), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Of most impact to counties, the Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act would require the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to develop voluntary guidelines that address the use and risks of AI in election administration. Developed in consultation with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), these guidelines would address:

  • The risks and benefits associated with using AI technologies to conduct election administration activities
  • The cybersecurity risks of AI technologies to election administration
  • How information generated and distributed by AI technologies can affect the sharing of accurate election information and how election offices should respond
  • How information generated and distributed by AI technologies can affect the spreading of election disinformation that undermines public trust and confidence in elections

During the meeting, the Committee also adopted an amendment to the bill offered by Sen. Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) that directs the EAC to report on the use of AI during the 2024 elections.

The two other bills considered during this meeting pertain to the use of AI in political campaigns by candidates for federal offices. More specifically, the AI Transparency in Elections Act of 2024 would require additional transparency for the use of content substantially generated by AI in political advertisements. Similarly, the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act would prohibit the distribution of materially deceptive AI-generated audio or visual media relating to candidates for federal office.

This meeting follows the EAC’s decision in February to allow Help America Vote Act (HAVA)-authorized election security grant funds to be used to combat election disinformation generated by AI. As counties prepare for the 2024 General Elections, NACo will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure election officials have the resources necessary to address risks and leverage opportunities related to AI.

In this work, NACo hosted a webinar in April on Handling the Rise of Generative Artificial Intelligence in Elections. To watch a recording of this webinar, click here. NACo is also preparing to release its county toolkit and report on Artificial Intelligence at the NACo 2024 Annual Conference in Hillsborough County, Fla.

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