After months of stalled progress in Congress, efforts to promote and fund nationwide election security improvements have finally gained some momentum this week. The Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited election infrastructure defense recommendations. Senate leaders got behind a revised version of the Secure Elections Act. And late Thursday night, the Senate passed the omnibus spending bill, which includes $380 million for securing digital election systems. All the pieces are in place. The solutions are clear. All that’s left is the doing. But, of course, that turns out to be the hardest part. Experts say that while Congress did take meaningful action this week, it likely comes too late to play an extensive role in securing this year’s midterm elections. “This is a great first step, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” says Marian Schneider, president of Verified Voting, a group that promotes election system best practices. “Just the heightened awareness of what is the threat model and what are best practices for dealing with that threat model makes me hopeful and optimistic that those steps will be taken. But I would like to see the vulnerable systems replaced, and the clock is ticking. The farther we get into the year, the less likely it is. That’s just a reality.”
… Observers note, though, that the HAVA money has crucial drawbacks and limitations. Both the spending bill and HAVA allow states to use the money for a broad range of election system-related projects, so there’s no guarantee it will go toward critical defense upgrades. And the way HAVA allocates money means not every state will wind up with enough to meet their need.
“$380 million would probably be enough to replace the vast majority of the paperless systems in the US, which is one of the main things security experts are concerned about,” says Lawrence Norden, the deputy director of the Brennan Center. “But since every state’s allotment is based on their population under the HAVA formula no matter what their needs are, it’s not going to be enough to do that. This money hopefully will be used quickly for basic cybersecurity and better post-election audits. But there’s going to be a need to really closely watch how [the states] are spending it, and this alone is not going to be enough to solve the problem.”
Full Article: Everyone Knows How to Secure Elections. So Do It | WIRED.