A top U.S. election official says that the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election came with a silver lining: At least we’re now focusing on election security. Christy McCormick, a member of the Election Assistance Commission, told a crowd of state and local election officials from across the country on Wednesday that the events of 2016 jump-started a focus on election security that was not as prominent before. “I know that election officials have always focused on these problems to some degree. Not so laserly focused on election security but I think this has brought this to the forefront for us in the last couple of years. So if there’s a good consequence to what happened, that is one of them,” McCormick said Wednesday at a public forum the EAC hosted in Miami to allow the state and local officials to discuss their election security plans ahead of upcoming elections.
The first-of-its-kind public forum came about a month after federal spending legislation provided states with $380 million to use toward election security. Those funds, which are being parsed out by EAC using a population-based formula from the 2002 Help America Vote Act, officially became available to states on Tuesday.
While replacing paperless voting machines and implementing paper audits have been at the top of the priorities list for election security advocates — in the public an private sector alike — EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks acknowledged that there are “few restrictions” on how states can use the money.