The follow statement can be attributed to Adam Ambrogi, Democracy Fund Voice Elections Program Director:
“We want to applaud Congress on taking this crucial step forward to help the states defend themselves against cyber threats by investing $380 million in the Elections Assistance Commission. Everyone should be concerned with the meaningful threats to our registration system that emerged in the 2016 elections. While it’s clear that more needs to be done by federal, state, and local governments to identify and rebuff threats to the voting system, the proposed federal funding is an important step that recognizes Congress’s role in supporting elections. This legislation makes clear that the funding should be prioritized towards securing election websites and registration systems, replacing paperless voting machines, promoting election audits, training election officials on how to respond to these threats, and on other election security best practices. States now have some important choices, and we know election officials will work hard to prioritize funding towards the greatest threats to the system. Because the money needs to be distributed quickly, it makes sense that Congress allowed for expedited grantmaking. That said, states should work quickly to develop a public process to ensure the funds are used wisely. We support the Election Assistance Commission in their role as liaison to disperse the funds to the states and to ensure that state and local officials are full partners in this process.
Senators Klobuchar and Lankford have worked incredibly hard on this tough policy issue and deserve to be commended on their leadership. They were joined in this important effort by Senators Graham and Harris. The Senate Intelligence Committee’s important investigatory work also contributed to public understanding of this effort, thanks to the work of Senators Burr and Warner. We’d like to thank House and Senate leadership, as well as Democratic Leader Schumer — who has been a steadfast champion on issues pertaining to election administration — in particular. Without the work of the Appropriation Committees and their staff, the funding would also not be part of the final package. In the future, we believe that it’s important to have public hearings on these threats along with policy opportunities in the Senate Rules and House Administration Committees, and we call on the leadership of those committees to have hearings sooner rather than later. There is a real need for stronger relationships and communications in the field; we are encouraged at this bipartisan progress and would love to see more work accomplished.
Many leaders and organizations — including Democracy Fund Voice — have worked tirelessly to prioritize funding for the states to deal with this new threat to our democracy. We are proud to have played a small part in ensuring that these resources have started to flow to the states. We would like to see this be the first, but not the last, major investment in helping states solve this complex issue. Voters need to know that they are supported by expanded resources and that experts and officials are working hard to protect them. Election officials have ramped up their focus on this issue since the 2016 election — but thanks to this funding, they now have much greater capacity to support their voters.”