Omnibus Budget to Include $380M for Election Security

[Image via patriotinstitute]

[UPDATED 945am Eastern to note contributions of other Senators to omnibus push]

The forthcoming federal omnibus will include $380 million in funds for states as part of an effort to improve election security. Reuters has more:

A massive federal government spending bill unveiled on Wednesday includes $380 million to help safeguard U.S. voting systems from cyber attacks, in what would be Congress’ first concrete steps to bolster election security since the 2016 presidential campaign was marred by allegations of Russian meddling.

The funding would provide states with grants to help them purchase more secure voting machines, conduct post-election audits and improve election cyber security training.

The spending bill also includes a $307 million increase over the Trump administration’s request for the FBI’s budget, which appropriators said would be used in part for counter-intelligence efforts to protect against Russia cyber attacks.

Here’s a screenshot of the language:

Translating:

  1. The EAC will get $380 million to disburse to states 45 days after the enactment of the bill;
  2. States will get a minimum of $3 million (territories $600,000) with the rest allocated by population (like in HAVA); and
  3. States will have two years to provide a 5% match of the funds received.

This is a welcome development, but it does raise questions:

  • Will there be any joint resources made available in addition to the state grants?
  • How far will this money go, given that it’s roughly 10% of the funds originally authorized by HAVA?
  • Can the funds make a difference in 2018?

I have no doubt there will be more analysis of this provision in the days and weeks ahead, but for now it’s encouraging that Congress has finally put some money behind all this talk about election security. Kudos to Senators Lankford, Klobuchar and others who worked to get this language included, as well as to to the members and staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who held a hearing yesterday to highlight their recommendations for improving election security, which undoubtedly helped push this provision to the finish line.

The bill still needs to be approved and signed by the President, but the prospects look good for a small infusion of federal election funding in the relatively near future.

Stay tuned …

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