Blue Dogs Call on Appropriations Leaders to Provide Robust Funding to States for Election Security

October 29, 2019 by Dan McCue
A voting station. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition of national security-minded Democrats called on the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on Tuesday to provide “robust” funding to a federal commission that partners with states to protect their election infrastructure.

Established in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act, the Election Assistance Commission is an independent agency of the federal government that serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration.

As part of its mission, the EAC also provides grant funding to states, territories and the District of Columbia to bolster their election security and processes.

Earlier this year the House approved $600 million in funding for the agency in the FY2020 budget. But the Senate approved only $250 million.

In a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, Blue Dog Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y. ask that the Senate raise its support for the commission to the level approved by the House.

Reps. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., and Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., co-chairs of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, also signed the letter, which was addressed to Reps. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., chair and Kay Granger, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Blue Dogs also asked that as the committee leaders reconcile the differences between their versions of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2020, they include language requiring grantees to use this federal funding to replace direct-recording electronic voting machines with voting systems that require the use of a voter-verified paper ballot.

They go on to request that money be earmarked to address cyber vulnerabilities in election systems, provide election officials with cybersecurity training, institute election system cybersecurity best practices, and make other improvements to the security of federal elections.

The Blue Dog Coalition has taken the lead in Congress in calling for a comprehensive, bipartisan effort to secure U.S. elections since the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian attempts to interfere with the 2016 election.

Over the summer, the coalition introduced a package of legislative proposals that have earned bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

The Blue Dog proposal continues to serve as a roadmap for Congress to take concrete steps to secure the U.S. election infrastructure ahead of the 2020 election. Several of the Blue Dog-endorsed policies were included in the SAFE Act and the SHIELD Act, both of which have passed the House and awaits action in the Senate.

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