President Trump has shown an alarming unwillingness to respond to Russia’s hostile influence campaign during the 2016 election and to counter its effort to interfere in this year’s vote. That means Congress and the states must step in, and soon, to secure the midterms against an emboldened adversary that has already penetrated state election systems once and that continues to wield online provocateurs to disseminate lies and inflame national divisions. Over the past week, the Democratic minority has offered some good suggestions. Will Republicans treat the issue with the same urgency?
House and Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday proposed sending an extra $300 million to the FBI to combat foreign election interference. By contrast, House Republicans have proposed only a slight boost. “Additional funding should be targeted to ensure the resources and manpower to counter the influence of hostile foreign actors operating in the U.S., especially Russian operatives operating on our social media platforms,” the Democrats stipulated.
A significant boost for the FBI would no doubt help, but it is far from enough. A report that a House Democratic task force recently released stressed that states, which run elections in the United States, require more federal assistance to build confidence in the integrity of the voting system. Congress already authorized funding under the Help America Vote Act to do things such as improve voting machines, but it has not allocated all the money it authorized. Now would be an ideal time to provide the rest of the cash.