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Elections commission announces security funding

As part of the omnibus spending law passed on March 23, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories are getting funding to improve their elections infrastructure prior to the 2018 elections.  On March 29, the Elections Assistance Commission announced how the $380 million will be distributed.

An extension of the 2002 Help America Vote Act that distributed funds to states to improve voting systems and voter access issues identified following the 2000 election, the 2018 HAVA Election Security Fund will give states additional resources to secure and improve their election systems.

The funds will be made available by the EAC as grants to make it easier for states to access the funds ahead of the 2018 federal elections. States will receive grant award notification letters in April. With primary elections already underway, however, states will be allowed to incur costs against forthcoming grant awards with EAC approval. 

“The EAC is committed to making these funds available as soon as feasibly possible, and we fully expect this money will be deployed in meaningful ways to support the 2018 elections,” EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks said.

Each of the states is required to match 5 percent of the grant funds, which will add another $18.91 million to improve election infrastructure.  States will have until Sept. 30, 2023, to request funds.

To receive funding, states must submit a two- to three-page overview of the activities the grant will support, along with a line-item budget, within 90 days of receiving a notice of the grant awards.

The funds can be used for purchasing or leasing voting systems; designing, implementing or conducting post-election audits; modernizing and securing election-related computer systems; upgrading election-related systems to address vulnerabilities found in Department of Homeland Security scans; cybersecurity training for state and local election officials; and implementing best practices in  elections systems cybersecurity.

Although the $380 million in funding is welcomed by the states, some local election officials say it isn’t nearly enough. According to a recent report by Stateline, it could cost as much as $79 million to replace paperless machines in Pennsylvania, but the state will receive only $13.5 million.

The amount of federal funding distributed to states and territories is based on the voting age population and ranges from $60,000 to $34.6 million.  More information on the distribution of 2018 funds can be found here.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.


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