When Congress approved giving $380 million to states to bolster the security of their elections, state officials were caught off guard but extremely grateful. Elections are notoriously underfunded and haven’t seen a windfall like this from the federal government in more than a decade. But getting that money out to all the states, and then into the hands of localities that run the elections, with enough time to have a meaningful effect on the 2018 midterm elections is a difficult proposition. Three months after receiving congressional approval, and now less than five months from November’s midterm elections, 33 states have filed the necessary paperwork to begin receiving money. That number may seem “disconcertingly low” to some, especially when it was just 11 in mid-May, but there is mixed consensus on what it actually says about the country’s seriousness when it comes to handling threats leading up to the 2018 election.
“Judging a state’s preparedness and dedication to securing the vote based on this measure alone is a careless oversimplification,” said Thomas Hicks, the chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, which is in charge of distributing the money. He penned a letter in response to a Politico article published last month about the low number of states that had applied for the funding.
“The states want the money, and we want to give the money out,” Hicks told NPR in an interview. “It’s mostly that they have to deal with their legislatures, and things like that. They have to jump through some hoops back at home before they can come to us.