Things are looking up again for the Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), the legislation on its namesake subject that has the broadest support in the Senate. Lawmakers left it on the cutting room floor as a potential amendment to a defense policy bill earlier this week. But Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt said Wednesday at a hearing on election security that it’s “a bill we will take up at some point.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, one of the chief sponsors of the bill and the top Democrat on the Rules panel, told MC that Blunt informed her it would come up sometime after another election security hearing tentatively scheduled for this month or next.
Klobuchar said the legislation already underwent tweaks at the request of state officials on some of its “smaller provisions.” Another needed tweak is related to the legislation’s calls for the release of $380 million in Help America Vote grants authorized way back in 2002, since Congress earlier this year approved distributing that cash. So what now? State election officials at a Wednesday Rules hearing said they still want more money, even if they differ on how highly the cyber threat to elections ranks. “The second piece is funding,” Klobuchar said. “We’d like to see more funding. We’ve talked about ongoing funding.”
Blunt told reporters after the hearing that many of the things the Secure Election Act bill would do, like ordering improved threat information sharing from the federal government, are already happening. But Klobuchar said it was worth getting those provisions into law, since leadership at DHS and other agencies working on election security will inevitably change. Speaking of that $380 million: A group of congressional Democrats on Wednesday asked the Election Assistance Commission to block states from purchasing paperless voting machines with those grants, but the commission said it doesn’t have that authority.