Federal officials have announced how they plan to divvy up $380 million Congress set aside last month to help state election officials safeguard their voting and voter registration systems against cyberattacks like those Russian hackers carried out in 2016.
Now it’s up to citizens and elected officials to see that the funds are spent as intended. Congress has directed that the money be used to shore up vulnerable computer systems, provide cybersecurity training to election officials, ensure that there is a paper record for every ballot cast and provide for post-election audits to ensure that the apparent winner of each election is the person who actually received the most votes.
Common Cause is hosting a webinar on Tuesday evening (8 p.m. Eastern time) to help people learn more about the aid program and how they can help make sure the money coming to their states goes where it’s most needed. Check out the link above and plan to join us.
The federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which is distributing the money, is asking each state to provide a 2-3 page summary of how it plans to spend its share. Each state also must provide $5 from its own budget for every $100 in federal aid and by December must send the EAC a report detailing where the funds went. Election security analysts say the money provides a good start toward fixing outdated election systems but that more appropriations will be necessary.
California, at nearly $34.6 million, and Texas, at $23.3 million, stand to get the largest share of the money, which is being distributed under a longstanding formula that is part of the Help America Vote Act. Other major recipients include New York ($19.5 million), Florida ($19.2 million), Pennsylvania ($13.5 million), and Illinois ($13.2 million). For a complete list of the distributions, click here.
Paperless voting systems, which election security experts say are most vulnerable to cyberattacks, are still in use in all or part of more than a dozen states. The Center for American Progress reported in February that 31 states have “unsatisfactory” ballot accounting and reconciliation systems.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections