In the past eight days, federal officials — including Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence; Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary; and Christopher Krebs, the homeland security undersecretary for cybersecurity — have warned that the Russian hackers who attempted to meddle in the 2016 election are on the prowl again. Depending on who you ask, state election officials are either implementing sweeping new security measures or making minimal progress in safeguarding voters ahead of this November’s general election. Every state has claimed its piece of the $380 million the federal Election Assistance Commission offered for new security measures, and several states’ top election officials have told Congress they’re using the money to harden the firewalls around their voter registration files and to replace antiquated ballot equipment with new machines that offer paper records.
According to other reports, though, states aren’t making much progress. According to Politico, just 13 states are using their EAC money to buy new voting equipment, while 22 won’t be replacing their balloting machines before November. Only 18 states are taking the Department of Homeland Security up on its offer of cybersecurity assessments.
But the EAC money makes up just a small percentage of what’s actually needed to overhaul a election system — upgrades could cost some individual states upward of $100 million. An additional wave of federal dollars is unlikely, and so too is the possibility that states will replace ballot machines with less than four months until Election Day.
So in the meantime, some states’ top election officials are taking their own measures to beef up security between now and November. Over two days in Philadelphia last weekend, attendees of a national conference of secretaries of state detailed a few different approaches they’re taking to secure their votes.