Nearly four months have passed since Congress set aside $380 million for states to upgrade their election systems, and we’re just now seeing concrete details about how states plan to spend that money. California will immediately make more than $3 million available to county officials to help them protect voter rolls from cyberthreats and improve accessibility at polling places, according to figures provided to The Cybersecurity 202. And Hawaii will spend more than $400,000 ahead of the November midterms to upgrade computers, hire staff and conduct cybersecurity training, the secretary of state’s office says. California and Hawaii are among 13 states that, as of Monday, have submitted their detailed plans to the Election Assistance Commission about how they intend to spend their share of the federal cash ahead of the July 16 deadline. Their plans offer an early indication that states are taking recommendations from federal officials and election security experts seriously as the midterms approach and intelligence officials warn of a new wave of election interference from the Russian government.
“The bottom line is that the plan that we put together reflects all the cyber best practices from both the private and the public sector,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla told me. “It’s vitally important not just for the cybersecurity of our elections but for the confidence the public deserves to have as well.”
We’re about to see more proposals from across the country: The EAC tells me it expects to receive budgets from all 50 states and five territories before next Monday. Any states that don’t submit their budgets by then could apply for an extension, but they risk losing their cut of the $380 million if they don’t have a plan turned in before the end of the fiscal year.