Senate Committee Advances Bills Ensuring AI Does Not Impact Security of 2024 Election 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Three bills that aim to prevent artificial intelligence from impacting the security of the 2024 elections advanced to the Senate floor on Wednesday after a committee hearing.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, introduced all three bills and led the markup session of the legislation this morning, joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). 

“AI has the potential to jaundice or even totally discredit our election systems,” Schumer said at the hearing. “If deep fakes are everywhere and no one believes the results of the elections, woe is our democracy.”

Klobuchar introduced the first of the three bills, the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act, in September 2023, which would prohibit “the distribution of materially deceptive AI-generated audio or visual media relating to candidates for Federal office, and for other purposes.” The bill has five co-sponsors, including Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

During the hearing, she referenced examples of this, including a fake video of former President Donald Trump hugging Dr. Anthony Fauci and a robo call in New Hampshire that played a false rendering of President Joe Biden’s voice telling people not to vote in the Democratic primaries.

“We cannot have our democracy undermined by ads, videos and robo calls where you literally don’t know if [they’re from] the candidate you love or the candidate you dislike,” Klobuchar said at the hearing. 

In March 2024, she introduced two more AI-related bills, both co-sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

Klobuchar introduced S.3875, the AI Transparency in Elections Act of 2024, which states that if a political advertisement contains images, audio or video generated by AI, then it needs to include a statement within the ad disclosing it.

Then, she announced S. 3897, the Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act, which would require the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to create guidelines for election officials on how AI can be used in the administration of elections, as well as how to mitigate the risks and harms of AI use in elections and campaigns, like cybersecurity concerns and the spread of disinformation.

This third bill did not face opposition in the committee hearing today, passing 11-0 in the vote. It was the least controversial of the three.

The first two bills faced more controversy. Sen. Deb Fisher (R-Neb.) spoke at the Senate markup hearing today, expressing her opposition to these bills, saying that they “miss the mark” on addressing the issue of AI use in elections.

“We have to balance the potential for innovation with the potential for deceptive or fraudulent use. On top of that, we can’t lose sight of the important protections our constitution provides for free speech in this country,” Fisher said. “These two bills do not strike that careful balance.”

She also said that states should be allowed to regulate their own elections and that many have already instituted protections against the misuse of AI.

“Political campaigns themselves are already able, under existing state laws, to address fraudulent and defamatory ads and quickly seek their removal whether or not those ads were created using AI,” Fisher continued. “State laws may provide faster ways to seek removal of such ads than the federalized enforcement process in these bills.”

The Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act and AI Transparency in Elections Act of 2024 both passed the committee with a 9-2 vote, which didn’t include senators who were not present at the meeting and voted by proxy, such as Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who voted against these bills.

Despite some opposition, Klobuchar still maintained that these bills can be passed in a bipartisan fashion.

“These bills have significant bipartisan support outside of this committee in the U.S. Senate and in the House,” Klobuchar said. “I also note that I am very much looking forward to working with our colleagues, [addressing] any concerns they have that are specific that we can work through, so that these bills are passed in some way in the next few months.”

Schumer also emphasized the urgency of the situation as the 2024 election approaches.

“The clock is ticking on our democracy from a technology more powerful than we have ever seen,” Schumer said. “I hope my colleagues who question the need for congressional action think carefully about the consequences of doing nothing.”

Read the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act here.

Read the AI Transparency in Elections Act of 2024 here. 

Read the Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act here.