State election officials on Tuesday urged members of Congress to send more resources to states to bolster the security of their election IT infrastructure. Officials from Rhode Island and Virginia made the plea to Democratic members of a task force focused on election cybersecurity that was formed in the wake of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “States need additional funding and resources dedicated to the security of election systems,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea (D) told lawmakers at the public forum on Capitol Hill. “These funds are critically needed for the assessments, testing procedures and the strengthening of IT capacity. In many states, they also need funding for the hardware of voting systems themselves.” Gorbea urged Congress to play a “critical role” by both appropriating additional resources to states for election cybersecurity and exercising oversight of the federal government’s efforts to safeguard future elections.
Both Rhode Island and Virginia have recently scrapped old, outdated voting technology in favor of more secure systems to ensure voter confidence in election results.
Virginia in September moved to get rid of touchscreen voting machines ahead of the upcoming November gubernatorial election amid concerns about their security. Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Edgardo Cortés said Tuesday that the final decision was triggered by a demonstration at the DEF CON cybersecurity conference in July in which security experts breached numerous types of voting machines with ease.
“Congress needs to ensure that sufficient federal funding is available for states to procure and maintain secure voting equipment and increase security of all elections,” Cortés stressed. “That needs to be an ongoing commitment and not a one-time infusion of resources.”