March 02, 2018

Klobuchar Urges Appropriations Committee to Include Funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to Carry Out Critical Improvements in Election Security

WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged the Appropriations Committee in a letter to include $400 million in grant funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute to states in order to carry out critical improvements in election security. The U.S. intelligence community has left no doubt that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections. Russian hackers attempted to hack at least 21 states’ election systems in 2016 and a U.S. voting software company. And according to the Chicago Board of Elections, information on thousands of American voters was exposed after an attack on their voter registration system. Our top intelligence officials have confirmed that Russia will continue to attack our democracy.

“Protecting our democracy from future attacks will require modernizing our election system and building new safeguards to combat cyber-attacks,” Klobuchar wrote. “More than forty states rely on voting systems that are at least ten years old, thirteen states use machines with no paper backup, and many state election officials have never received cybersecurity training. The next federal election is only months away and our state election officials – the people on the front lines of this fight – do not have the resources they need. That is unacceptable. It is critical that we take action by providing the funding necessary to protect our election systems.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Leahy, Chairman Capito, and Ranking Member Coons:

As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over federal elections, I respectfully urge you to include $400 million in grant funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute to states in order to carry out critical improvements in election security.

The U.S. intelligence community has left no doubt that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections. Russian hackers attempted to hack at least 21 states’ election systems in 2016 and a U.S. voting software company. And according to the Chicago Board of Elections, information on thousands of American voters was exposed after an attack on their voter registration system. Our top intelligence officials have confirmed that Russia will continue to attack our democracy.

This month at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, top intelligence officials testified that Russia is “bolder” and will use lessons learned in 2016 to interfere in 2018 and beyond. Yesterday, Admiral Rogers further confirmed this in his testimony before the Armed Services Committee saying, “I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there’s little price to pay here, and that therefore I can continue this activity.”

Protecting our democracy from future attacks will require modernizing our election system and building new safeguards to combat cyber-attacks. More than forty states rely on voting systems that are at least ten years old, thirteen states use machines with no paper backup, and many state election officials have never received cybersecurity training. The next federal election is only months away and our state election officials – the people on the front lines of this fight – do not have the resources they need. That is unacceptable. It is critical that we take action by providing the funding necessary to protect our election systems. 

Additionally, we request that you include the following report language to instruct the Election Assistance Commission on how to disburse the funding:

The Act includes $400 million for election technology improvement grants as authorized by sections 101, 103, and 104 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-252).  In administering these grants, the Election Assistance Commission shall provide funding to: (1) ensure voters cast a ballot with a voter verified paper record; therefore, no money granted under this section may be used to purchase voting equipment that only records a voter’s intent electronically; (2) implement a post-election audit system that provides a high-level of confidence in the accuracy of the final vote tally; (3) upgrade election-related computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities identified through DHS or similar scans or assessments of existing election systems; (4) facilitate cyber security training for the state chief election official’s office and local election officials; and (5) the EAC, in coordination with DHS, shall identify, update, and distribute election cybersecurity best practices to election officials on a regular basis so states can implement established cybersecurity best practices for election systems.

Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to working with you to secure our election systems.

Sincerely,

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