States will receive at least $3 million each to protect their voting systems against Russian cyber attacks under a provision added to a sweeping government spending deal that Congress has reached. The $1.3 trillion spending deal includes a total of $380 million for election security grants. The House passed the bill Thursday and sent it to the Senate for approval. States have been scrambling to improve their cyber security after Homeland Security officials revealed last year that Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in at least 21 states in 2016. Although no actual votes were changed, hackers broke into Illinois’ voter registration database.
Within 45 days, the Election Assistance Commission will send a grant award letter to each state’s chief election official telling them that funding is available and providing guidance on how to get the money, said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who helped push for the funding as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Each state will receive a minimum of $3 million to improve election security. States with larger populations will get more, Coons said.
States must provide a short-term plan for how they will spend the money and agree to a 5% match of state funds within two years of receiving the federal dollars.