Here's how states plan to spend the federal money they're getting for election security
Published: August 22, 2018
From down payments on voting machines to specialized cybersecurity units, here's what states are doing with the $380 million granted from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
The US Election Assistance Commission has set aside $380 million to be distributed among the states to bolster election security. Information on funding for each state and territory is available here. Spending plans have been released, which show that much of the funding will be spent on cybersecurity upgrades, including training, routine scans and risk assessments, and threat mitigation tools. However, some money will go toward new voting equipment, rebuilding voter registration systems, and developing new post-election audit practices.
The state have varied plans as to how they plan on utilizing the funding. Six states plan on using every dollar received on new voting equipment, including Delaware and Louisiana. Pennsylvania is another state that plans on using 100% of its funding on new equipment, although the $13.5 million it received only covers a fraction of the estimated $125 million it will cost to replace the equipment by the 2020 election.
Other states are spreading their funds across different areas. Texas is spending roughly half its grant on cybersecurity. The Texas Secretary of State’s office will be providing security products to election officials throughout Texas’ counties through 2020. Washington State will be providing a boost to smaller jurisdictions, specifically by staffing up a security operations center to review election systems maintained by local governments. Similarly, several other states are creating new positions or offices dedicated to election security. As noted in Deltek’s review of New Jersey’s spending plan, the state will be using some its money to add an election specialist to the statewide cybersecurity office. New York is setting a cybersecurity group focused specifically on elections, as well as implementing more network monitoring and threat mitigation services. Illinois plans on putting all of its grant money into cybersecurity, which comes in the wake of the theft of personal information from the state’s voter registration database.
Ultimately, the release of these spending plans reveals a number of key findings. For one, the different states are taking a variety of approaches in how they plan on using funds available. Second, although efforts have been made and are ongoing, it is clear that all 50 states and the US territories know the significance of maintaining election security and will continue to take the necessary steps to do so for the upcoming midterm elections in November, as well as those in 2020. Companies that work in this market should continue to watch for any new developments in what will surely continue to be a high-priority area in the coming years.