In a letter to President Joe Biden, Democrats demanded $5 billion in election security grants, ramping up their calls for secure elections.
“We write to request that you include $5 billion in election security grants in your Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute to states and local governments for improvements to the administration of federal elections,” the group of Democrats, which include Senators Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Richard “Dick” Durbin (Ill.), said in their letter. “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and we know that you share our commitment to ensuring our elections are well funded so that all Americans can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
They added: “While past funding has been critical, we must continue to help both state and local election officials modernize their voting equipment, improve the administration of elections, and strengthen cybersecurity for election systems. Six states still widely use voting systems that do not produce paper ballots. The EAC also recently approved an updated version of the voluntary voting system guidelines that will lead to investments in more modern voting systems. In addition, election officials are facing a surge in threats and harassment that have left many worried for their safety, raising concerns about the ability of state and local governments to retain and recruit officials, workers, and volunteers for future elections.”
The group noted that they “remain committed to advancing legislation that will provide election officials a reliable stream of funding to make ongoing improvements to election administration.”
You can read the complete letter HERE.
Calls to bolster election security have persisted for some time.
Former President Donald Trump’s administration knocked down cybersecurity bills more than once despite concerns that foreign adversaries were once again interfering in the United States‘ elections.
Last year, Senator Klobuchar, joined by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) reintroduced a measure called The Invest in Our Democracy Act, which would establish a $1 million grant program to cover up to 75% of the costs of tuition for cybersecurity or election administration training for state and local election officials. Their employees would also qualify. The grant program would be overseen by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), whose employees would also be eligible.
“Our intelligence officials have made clear that our election systems continue to be a target for foreign adversaries,” Klobuchar said in a statement at the time. “While federal and state officials have agreed that the 2020 election was ‘the most secure in American history,’ we must continue to do everything in our power to protect our democracy from the ongoing threat of foreign interference.”
She added: “That means making sure those who are on the front lines of administering elections have the training and resources they need to safeguard our election systems. The Invest in Our Democracy Act would ensure that election officials are prepared to improve cyber-defenses and election administration practices ahead of future elections.”
In 2019, the Election Security Act was blocked by the Senate.
“We know there’s a continued threat against our democracy. What we need to do now is address these facts with a common purpose, to protect our democracy, to make sure that our election systems are resilient against future attacks,” Klobuchar said from the Senate floor at the time.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.