Faced with cyber-security threats to their voting systems, Florida election supervisors are eager to get access to some of the $19 million in federal election security money Congress sent states nearly two months ago. But they say all they’re hearing from the state is crickets. “We sure wish the money was available. It’s frustrating,” said supervisor Mark Earley in Tallahassee’s Leon County. “This is a big deal. There’s certainly room for improvement, especially in smaller counties.” Congress included $380 million in a 2018 budget bill and in March directed the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to distribute the money to states. President Donald J. Trump signed the budget bill on March 23. “The EAC is releasing this money quickly so that the grants can have an immediate impact,” the commission said on March 29. The money will help counties “immediately begin system upgrades.”
The feds say the money can be spent to replace voting equipment using paper ballots (the system in Florida); create post-election audit systems to ensure accurate results; upgrade voting systems to protect against “cyber vulnerabilities,” and train employees.
Elections officials want to harden their systems against threats, improve technological security and better educate voters. All that costs money.