California to spend $134 million securing voting systems ahead of November elections
Published: June 19, 2018
A budget submitted this week to Gov. Jerry Brown includes the biggest investment in election security seen in the state in more than a decade.
California will spend $134 million on modernizing election systems throughout the state, as part of a state budget legislators submitted Thursday night to Gov. Jerry Brown. Under the spending plan, the state will assist its 58 counties in replacing ballot equipment, upgrading voter registration files and purchasing new software for local elections officials. Local officials will be able to apply for funding to pay for improvements including electronic poll books, secure drop boxes for mail-in ballots, communications technologies to facilitate voter registration and ballot-on-demand systems.
In addition, Secretary of State Alex Padilla's office also announced $3 million in spending to create two new offices dedicated to election security: the Office of Enterprise Risk Management, which will hire election-security experts to fortify the state's existing information technology assets, and the Office of Election Cybersecurity, which will focus coordinating cyberdefenses between the state and counties, and combatting misinformation directed at California voters. Padilla spokesman Jesse Melgar told StateScoop the money represents California's biggest statewide investment in more than a decade.
Melgar said once counties begin applying for the funds, distribution will be an "ongoing process." Some new equipment and software may be in place this year, but Melgar said the goal is to make all the upgrades in time for the 2020 presidential election. Although the State is confident in its system integrity and security, glitches do occur, such as a printing error in Los Angeles County ahead of the recent June 5 primary that resulted in more than 118,000 voters being cut from the rolls.
This makes evident the serious approach California State leaders are taking regarding election security. Furthermore, state leaders are still deliberating when they'll accept the $36.3 million allocated to California by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Melgar said the state intends to make a formal announcement about accepting that sum in the next few weeks. All this shows that California is prepared to spend big if need be, but State officials are confident its current infrastructure. Regardless, this could be something worth monitoring for any interested vendors active in this market through the coming months.