(The Center Square) – State elections officials from across the country are pushing Congress to slip in tens of billions of dollars in election integrity spending into the budget.
The letter, addressed to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also stresses that much of the funding needs to be accessible well before the 2022 election, for which primaries begin next spring.
“Our states have just been through the most challenging election imaginable: the COVID-19 crisis, huge shifts to vote-by-mail ballots, unprecedented dissemination of disinformation, and threats against election officials of both parties,” the 14 state elections officials said in their Sept. 8 letter. “Each of those challenges was extraordinarily costly and put deep strain on our states, counties, and cities. Nevertheless, together, we held an historically successful election, with the largest turnout in a century and extremely accurate results.”
The officials say they need $20 billion in elections spending to be included in a budget reconciliation bill that’s working its way through the legislative process in Washington D.C. Those funds would be allocated over 10 years.
The elections stewards say the funding would “give local and state election offices the ability to replace outdated equipment, upgrade voter registration and election management systems, invest in physical, technological, and security infrastructure, and other essential needs.”
But, they hint that even $20 billion might not be enough, referencing an Election Infrastructure Initiative study that estimated a $56 billion need over the next 10 years to “ safeguard systems from cyber security threats, update and maintain equipment, systems, and facilities, and ensure that there are enough well-trained staff to effectively run elections.”
In January 2017, then-President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security designated elections integrity as “critical infrastructure” that needs to be given precedent in spending and securing. This was in response to calls of Russian meddling in the 2016 General Election that saw President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
Signing the letter is Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, California Secretary of State Shirley Webber, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, New York Chief Election Official Kristen Zebrowski Stavisky, Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary Veronica Degraffenreid, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, and Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos.