[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced today that the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 includes $380 million dollars in funding for election security grants to help states to protect their election systems. Blumenthal led a letter with sixteen of his colleagues requesting additional funding to help state and local election officials address any deficiencies in their voting system. As the senators noted in their funding request, many states have voter registration systems that are at least ten years old, leaving them at significant risk of future attacks. This funding will be made immediately available to states to being implementing security improvements ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, and secure voting systems are their cornerstone,” Blumenthal said. “This funding will help ensure that state and local officials on the front lines of our democracy have the resources they need to ensure the integrity of our elections. The 2018 midterms are fast approaching – we should be taking immediate steps to harden our defenses against the kind of attacks we experienced during the last election cycle.”
“The election cybersecurity infrastructure funding that has been announced is a critical first step by the federal government in aiding our efforts to protect Connecticut elections from outside interference in advance of the 2018 midterm elections,” said Denise Merrill, Connecticut Secretary of the State and Co-Chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State Election Cybersecurity Task Force. “These much-needed funds can be used to upgrade our hardware and software defenses on the local level, and to train local election officials on election cybersecurity best practices.”
The funding included in the Omnibus ensures that each state will receive a minimum of $3 million dollars to improve election security. Additional funds will be provided based on the population of each state.
Although these grants specifically target cybersecurity for election systems, the program will allow states to identify and improve their specific vulnerabilities and needs. This flexibility allows state and local election officials to make determinations about what is most needed in their own jurisdictions. Funding can be used to:
- Replace outdated voting machines that do not provide a voter verified paper record;
- Implement a post-election audit system that provides a high-level of confidence in the accuracy of final vote tallies;
- Upgrade election-computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities;
- Facilitate cyber security training for the state chief election official's office and local election officials; and
- Implement established cybersecurity best practices for election systems; and fund other activities that will improve the security of elections for federal office.