Leaders of a House Democratic task force that has warned the nation’s elections infrastructure is susceptible to potential cyber breaches have asked the House Appropriations Committee to provide $400 million for states to better secure their election systems.
“Our findings demonstrate that there is an urgent need for federal funding to help states secure their elections,” Reps. Robert Brady (Pa.) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.), said in a Nov. 16 letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the appropriations panel. The letter was released on Nov. 20.
Brady and Thompson, the ranking members, respectively, of the House Administration and Homeland Security Committees, pointed to legislation from 2002 that provided $3 billion to help states protect their election infrastructure that still has $400 million to be distributed.
The grants in the Help America Vote Act are administered by the federal Election Assistance Commission, which Brady and Thompson cite for funds still to be appropriated.
“Appropriating the remaining $400 million would enable states to take the crucial security steps of replacing outdated equipment, implementing cybersecurity best practices, and hiring IT staff,” Brady and Thompson wrote. They said, “The single most urgent need is for states using paperless machines to replace their outdated equipment with paper ballot voting systems.”
The Congressional Task Force on Election Security released preliminary recommendations in its Nov. 15 report, including making it a priority to train state and local officials on cyber security, creating clear channels for sharing threat and intelligence information with election officials, suggesting states conduct post-election risk-limit audits, and maintaining the designation of the nation’s elections infrastructure as a critical infrastructure subsector.