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How states are using their election security funds

In March, the Elections Assistance Commission announced $380 million in funding to help improve elections infrastructure. Now, the EAC is providing details on how 48 of the 55 states and territories that received grants are using the funding to secure their election processes.

According to state plans posted on EAC’s website, 41 states are using the funds to improve election cybersecurity -- work that will consume 36.3 percent of the funds.  Of the remaining states that are not using the grants to strengthen cybersecurity, six are devoting all of their funds to replace voting equipment.

Thirty-four states in all are spending at least some of their grant money to purchase new voting equipment, and 27.8 percent of all HAVA funds are going toward purchasing new equipment.

In 29 states, money will go toward improving voter registration systems, and 24 states have allocated funds for post-election audit activities.  A small percentage of the total funding (2 percent) will be used to improve election-related communications efforts in 18 states.

To date, 96 percent of the 2018 HAVA funds have been distributed to the states. A few states have requested extensions, and their plans will be released at a later date.

“Just five months after Congress appropriated these vital funds, states and territories have money in the bank and new plans in place to protect the security, accessibility and efficiency of federal elections,” EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks said.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said his state is using the HAVA funds to replace optical scan tabulators before the 2020 election. Other improvements include an accessibility voting platform for those with disabilities, two-factor authentication for access to the state's election management system and cybersecurity training for local election officials.

“These funds will also be used to bolster cybersecurity protections which we have in place already to protect our elections from foreign adversaries and bad actors,” Condos said on an EAC press call. “Cybersecurity is race without a finish line. It is not a one-time expenditure, it is ongoing. The HAVA funds are critical to boost our cybersecurity and aging infrastructure.”

Condos, who serves as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, also encouraged Congress to pass legislation “to stay one step ahead those who are attacking our democracy” by providing yearly funding. However, Condos said he is not in favor of proposed amendments to the Secure Elections Act that will increase post-election audit costs.

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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