We Can Do Better Than Duct-Taping Voting Machines Together

Elections Infrastructure is important National security infrastructure — we don’t fund it that way.

In 2017, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated election infrastructure as “part of the existing Government Facility critical infrastructure area.” DHS notes that election infrastructure is “critical to our national interest, and Cyber ​​attack The country is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and bad actors – from nations, cybercriminals and hackers – are becoming more sophisticated and dangerous. ”

Unfortunately, public funding for holding elections is inconsistent, and when it does come, it’s not enough.

Only three times since 2010, Congress has allocated funding to include local election agencies: In 2018 and 2020, Congress has allocated $380 million and $425 million to local elections, respectively. Help America Elections Act (HAVA) Election Security Fund. It also allocated an additional $400 million in 2020 emergency election assistance funds through the CARES Act.

The latest consideration is the modernization of the Voter Count Act, which is more than a century old.

The act has been criticized since its passage for being confusing, complicated and ambiguous – and for allowing Congress to challenge Electoral College results submitted by states.

The technology we use to count votes is different today than it was in 1887, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that local elections departments still need the resources to conduct safe, inclusive elections. and guaranteed. And that takes Congress.

Between the bipartisan effort to reform the Vote Count Act and the Democrats’ efforts to protect the right to vote, now is the perfect time to invest in resources for local elections taking place. out safe. Such investments will protect the autonomy and integrity of local elections — providing additional resources to invest in what voters need while also complying with applicable federal laws such as the right to vote — and give everyone the opportunity to fulfill their civic duty without unnecessary hassle.

We knew in advance how the lack of steady public funding could make life more difficult for local election authorities. Over the past two years, we’ve heard from 2,500 local election departments about their funding gaps and needs in the 2020 election.

Several stories coming from small rural jurisdictions make it clear that they often go years without significant public investment. Some report that they can use grants as small as $5,000 in the 2020 election to pay for basic improvements. It sounds hard to believe, but $5,000 can really go a long way. Five Dollars Paid for First Time “Vote Here” by some counties signaladditional prospectors and new tabulators to replace machines that are over 100 years old — some literally held together with tape.

In the absence of a steady and regular federal budget, local election officials cannot develop a budget to repair or replace the equipment they have, nor can they plan for staffing. and the technology needed to build a more secure and voter-focused office.

Now is the perfect time for Congress to fix this, catch up with the appointment from DHS, and set up our local elections officials for success.

For too long, public funding has lagged behind on this important issue. Recently A report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that “[the] Current spending levels put elections near the bottom end of public service spending, ranking roughly the level of local government spending to maintain parking lots.”

Whatever happens with the Voter Count Act, state and local election officials need resources to succeed. Congress should take the lead and fund just $20 billion over 10 years to make our electoral system safer and improve voter confidence in elections. It would be only a fraction of the legal costs currently being considered by both chambers.

Thankfully, there is bipartisan support to improve the way we fund local election agencies. The new Progress Data poll shows that the majority of Americans—74 percent—Support investments in electoral infrastructure. This includes nearly three out of four Republicans surveyed.

A democracy held together is literally a democracy in trouble. Despite the unfortunate state of affairs, our local election officials provided most of the sureexactly and consists of the election is due in 2020. Let’s not ask them to repeat that feat without more resources this time — we need congressional action to modernize our elections. nowadays.

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