As part of the 2018 Omnibus Spending Bill, $380 million was designated to purchase certified voting systems, equipment and enhance procedures across the country through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), with each state receiving a base amount of $3 million.
The money can be used to purchase replacement election equipment; specifically, equipment that does not produce a paper result or is close to being obsolete.
In order to receive HAVA funds, state officials must:
- Provide a 5 percent match within two years of receiving the funds
- Submit a plan detailing how funds will be used
More Money for State with Large Voting Populations
After the initial $3 million, states were eligible to receive additional funds based on their voting age population.
Election Hacking a Major Concern for 2018 Midterms
U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials confirmed to the public in February that Russian hackers attempted to penetrate the election systems of 21 states before the 2016 presidential election, prompting wide concern about the security of future elections and scrutiny of current election safeguards.
And that is the tip of the iceberg, according to Christopher Krebs, the undersecretary for critical infrastructure at DHS.
“My unofficial opinion is that we’re kinda fooling ourselves if we don’t think they didn’t try to at least make a pass at all 50 states,” Krebs said in an interview with the Washington Post.
HAVA Puts Spotlight on Election, Voting Issues
Originally passed by Congress in 2002 to institute voting and election changes following the chaos of the 2000 presidential election, this year’s funding is focused on security of elections, particularly the resistance of cyberattacks.
After funding was passed, a group of security experts, former election officials and academics composed a letter and sent it out to all 50 states with recommendations on how to best spend the grant to protect votes. The letter suggests states:
- Replace paperless voting machines with machines that count paper ballots
- Conduct post-election audits in federal elections
- Upgrade older systems to ensure they are protected against cyber attacks
- Prohibit wireless connectivity in voting machines
- Train and educate election officials
Read more of EfficientGov’s coverage on election security: