Russian Threats Continue as Fund to Help States Runs Out
With 9,000 dedicated election officials and 3,069 counties nationally, the $380 million went fast.
Russian efforts to interfere in U.S. elections are not stopping. Although it currently appears that the effort to affect the 2018 midterm elections is less than the attempt to interfere in 2016, it is still important to ensure our election system is secure. It is so important that 21 state attorneys general, both Democrats and Republicans, wrote a letter asking for more money for voting infrastructure.
The Federal Government allocated $380 million in grants on March 23, 2018 to improve the administration of elections for Federal office. By July 16, all 50 states had requested this money, and all $380 million had been requested. With 9,000 dedicated election officials and 3,069 counties nationally, this money is not a lot and it went fast.
A congressional hearing was held to assess the role of the federal government, states, and localities in safeguarding the integrity of the U.S. election system and determine what actions must be taken ahead of the 2018 midterm elections to ensure the voting process is secure.
During the hearing, democratic congresspersons were very keen to discuss Russian interference specifically. Rep. Connolly from Virginia even moved to subpoena the director of national intelligence for information regarding Russian interference that he believed was being withheld. Several other democrats voiced a consensus that they want a public investigation into what Russia did. Rep. Gowdy made an interesting counter, ultimately ending the hearing by saying that we would not want to tip off our adversaries.
Ricky Hatch, a county auditor from Utah testifying at the hearing, made three suggestions which are excellent food for thought. First, he suggested there be a dedicated, predictable federal funding stream, rather than intermittent disbursements. Second, he suggested additional coordinated federal outreach to help with election administration. Third, he suggested a robust federalism process when changing the electoral system, as localities who administer elections are the experts.
The Department of Homeland Security is working closely with intelligence agencies to secure election systems before the 2018 midterms. Their undersecretary, Christopher Krebs, also testified at the hearing, saying that election infrastructure is a national security issue. He also said that there is no evidence that Russians were able to access vote tallying and concluded that they did not change the vote tallies.
One thing is clear: our adversaries who seek to interfere in our elections show no signs of stopping, so our election systems need to be strengthened.
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