May 24, 2024

Dems, Hoyer Request Election Defense Funding

Electoral Systems

Democrats in the US Congress have requested $14 million in funding for the Elections Assistance Commission so it can work to secure voting systems against cyber attacks. House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) joined Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.), House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), House Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), and 11 other House Democrats in sending a letter to the Appropriations Committee requesting the additional funding for Election Defense.

It’s been more than a year since intelligence agencies proved that Russian entities tried to infiltrate US election systems and access voter rolls in several states, yet no action has been taken to protect elections in 2018 or thereafter. Funding for the Elections Assistance Commission, which helps states adopt the latest technologies and share their best practices, has been underfunded for several years, and members have simply requested that appropriators return to the same funding levels as 2009. In the letter, members also request that $400 million of funds that were originally authorized for the Elections Assistance Commission, but never appropriated, be directed to cyber security grants and training for states to safeguard voting systems from outside hacking.

“Our letter seeks to ensure that the Election Assistance Commission can do what it was established to do: protect every American’s right to cast a ballot and have it counted accurately,” Whip Hoyer said in a statement issued by his office. “When I wrote the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which created the EAC, I did so with bipartisan support for safe and secure voting systems.: Because of that legislation, butterfly ballots and hanging chads are not a problem anymore. “Instead, our greatest challenge is a concerted effort by Russia to hack into voting systems and voter rolls in order to undermine confidence in our elections.” The funding the House members have asked for will address that challenge and help states protect voting systems against cyber attacks and other forms of interference. …

“The EAC is the only federal agency charged with making American elections more secure, accessible, accurate, and transparent,” the letter states. “It has built strong relationships with state and local election officials as well as cybersecurity experts, and has been vital to helping states understand and respond to the threats confronting their election infrastructure.”

The EAC has worked with a slim budget for several years to provide the states with guidance on cyber security and election technology. However, the commission needs additional resources at this critical time to respond to the needs of the states, which should not be left to their own devices in defending against the sophisticated cyber tactics by foreign governments. Attacking the electoral infrastructure in one state is the same as attacking all of democracy in America.

See a pdf of the full letter online.

Signers of the letter include:

Steny Hoyer

Robert Brady

Zoe Lofgren

Jamie Raskin

Bennie G. Thompson

Lisa Blunt Rochester

Joaquín Castro

Jim Cooper

Val Demings

James R. Langevin

John Lewis

Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Brad Schneider

John Yarmuth

Cedric L. Richmond
Members of Congress

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For more information about House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, visit his Leader member page.

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