A pair of President Trump’s nominees for a federal election agency testified before a Senate panel Wednesday on their plans to help state and local officials administer elections. Donald Palmer and Benjamin Hovland testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on their plans for the Election Assistance Committee (EAC), an agency that helps local officials administer their elections. Lawmakers are moving to add the pair to the election agency, with plans for a committee vote on their nominations next week. It would give the group its first quorum since March. Without the quorum, the EAC has been unable to take major policy moves. There are only two commissioners currently serving at the agency, which was formed as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Committee Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said during the hearing Wednesday that while in the past he did not understand the need for the EAC to exist, the concerns raised over election security helped change his perspective.
“However, the threats posed by bad actors and their exploitation of cyber vulnerabilities have highlighted the need for election administrators to have access to real time security information, technical assistance, and best practices,” Blunt said in his opening statement.
Election security has been amplified since Russia was determined to have interfered in the 2016 election. Officials said there is no evidence of interference in this year’s elections, but have noted that it could take time before any sort of interference is detected.