Pressure is mounting for Congress to take dramatic steps to ensure the security of US voting systems with just seven months to go before the crucial 2018 midterm elections. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called the need for new voting machines that produce a paper trail “a national security issue,” and Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, added his name as a cosponsor to a bill that would provide money to replace voting equipment that can’t be audited. But whether that funding will be appropriated remains uncertain. The Secure Elections Act has been slow to gain cosponsors, but its provisions were folded into the Senate’s must-pass omnibus spending bill to keep the government open as the Senate heads toward a Friday deadline to avoid another government shutdown.
“I applaud Senate leadership for including election security funding in this Omnibus appropriations bill,” said Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma. “Although I object to this year’s broken budget process, the funding in this omnibus appropriations bill will help states modernize their voting systems and ensure that auditable ballots can provide safeguards against manipulation and malicious cyberattacks.
… The Secure Elections Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in December, would appropriate $386 million to the Department of Homeland Security for grant money to give to states to replace their aging and potentially insecure voting machines.
That $386 million, if spent in exactly the right way, could replace every paperless voting machine in the country, said Lawrence Norden, the Brennan Center’s deputy director, who spoke with Klobuchar’s office during the bill’s drafting process. “As it happens, the Brennan Center’s estimate cost of replacing equipment is around $380 million,” Norden told BuzzFeed News.