As the HEROES Act continues to be discussed in the Senate, we want to direct greater attention to “Ensuring Safe Elections Federal Funding Needs for State and Local Governments During the Pandemic.” This excellent, thorough, bipartisan report by the Brennan Center for Justice, R Street Institute, the Alliance for Securing Democracy, and University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security sheds a bright light on the pressing need for significant, additional, federal funding so that the states have the resources they need to conduct secure, effective elections this November. The House version of the HEROES Act has slated $3.6 billion for election security. The Senate has the opportunity to act comparably.
As the report shows, the $400 million for election security that was appropriated in the previous stimulus bill (the CARES Act) only covered a mere 10% of the funds needed by state and local election officials. Because of the current recession, states and localities are particularly cash strapped and incapable of paying for the steps necessary to increase absentee voting, alter polling places to accommodate for social-distancing practices and upgrade election-systems software to make voting machines less vulnerable to cyber attacks. The only potential source of vital financial support, at this point, is the federal government.
The effectiveness and integrity of this year’s elections, during our country’s extraordinary struggle with the pandemic, hinge on congressional action.