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State voting cybersecurity would get boost in bipartisan bill

(Bloomberg) -- Two members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are proposing legislation aimed at hardening state voting systems against cyberattacks as part of a two-track response to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The bill proposed Tuesday by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Martin Heinrich of New Mexico would authorize federal grants to states to upgrade their systems and require better sharing of information about efforts to hack state voting systems. The government confirmed that Russians sought to probe the databases of 21 states last year, but delayed for months disclosing which states were targeted.

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A student types code on a laptop computer during a cyber-defense programming class in the "War Room" at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2015. In a darkened "war room" dozens of South Korea's brightest college students are practicing hacking each other as part of a government program to train them to battle some of the world's best -- the shadowy techno-soldiers of Kim Jong Un's regime. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

The Intelligence panel also is conducting an investigation of Russia’s election meddling and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s administration.

"We must do everything we can to protect the security and integrity of our elections," Heinrich said in a statement.

Collins said, "The fact that the Russians probed the election-related systems of 21 states is truly disturbing, and it must serve as a call to action to assist states in hardening their defenses against foreign adversaries that seek to compromise the integrity of our election process."