Proponents ask lawmakers to significantly increase federal funding as Jan. 6 hearings highlight threats to election workers

wallrea "Shaye"  Moss, a former Georgia election officer, and her mother Ruby Freeman, listen, listen as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings from a year-long Capitol investigation in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election official, and her mother Ruby Freeman, listen, listen as the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol continues to reveal its findings from a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 21, 2022AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

  • Bipartisan election attorneys are asking Congress for $2 billion in federal election funds.

  • A proposed spending package would allocate $400 million in election security grants.

  • Lawyers warned that local polling stations are “chronically underfunded” in a letter obtained by Insider.

A bipartisan group of election attorneys is asking House lawmakers to significantly increase proposed federal funding for elections in a federal spending bill as the Jan. 6 commission hearings highlight ongoing threats to election workers.

“The federal government has not invested meaningfully in our election infrastructure for more than a decade, and as a result, local election offices across the country are chronically underfunded,” a bipartisan coalition of advocacy groups and election officials wrote in a letter shared exclusively Thursday. with Insider asking congressional leaders for $2 billion in election funds.

The House Appropriations Committee will soon withdraw $29.8 billion Spending package for financial services and government for fiscal year 2023. The bill would allocate $400 million in federal aid for elections.

But that amount is significantly less than the $2 billion in federal election funding for FY-2023 and support for mail votes that proponents asked for and what President Joe Biden asked for in its March budget proposal to Congress.

Signatories to Thursday’s letter include advocacy groups, Protect Democracy, Issue One and the Center for Tech and Civic Life, in addition to seven state and local officials, including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill.

The full credit commission will accept the proposalincluding $400 million in federal grants for election security and an additional $34 million in operating expenses for the Election Assistance Commission, in a surcharge set for 9 a.m. Friday morning.

The letter states that $2 billion in “funding is needed to provide essential electoral resources at the local level, such as physical and cybersecurity systems, reliable and updated voting equipment, and adequate office space and staffing.”

Congress’ last major investment in elections was $3.5 billion with the Help America Vote Act of 2002, passed in the wake of the 2000 Florida presidential election debacle.

Groups like CTCL argue that federal funding has since failed to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost of conducting elections, the complexity of the technology involved, and the mounting threats to election security since then.

“Many local election offices struggle to provide even the basics because they lack reliable Internet access or storage space for election equipment,” the lawyers’ letter said. “We can’t let this go on.”

Congress allocated $380 million in election security funds in its fiscal 2018 spending, another $425 million the following year, and $400 million in emergency funds for elections right after the COVID-19 pandemic — which fell short of what advocates had demanded at the time.

Federal aid during the pandemic was supplemented by private philanthropist funds donated as grants by organizations including CTCL, but many states have since banned election officials from taking private grants.

“As we look at needs across the country over the next decade, we estimate that there will be more than $50 billion in electoral infrastructure costs, most of which are born at the local level,” CTCL’s Executive Director Tiana Epps-Johnson, told Insider in 2021.

In addition to rising costs and persistent cybersecurity threatsIn 2022, election officials will face difficulties recruiting polling stations, paper shortagesand increasing threats to their personal security, as evidenced by the ongoing committee hearings on January 6.

In the fourth hearing of the House Committee on Tuesday, former Fulton County, Georgia election official Wandrea “Shaye” Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman testified about receiving a torrent of harassment and abuse in the wake of the 2020 election when Trump and his allies attacked the two by name by putting forward their false claims of voter fraud.

Read the original article Business Insider

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