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$ 250 million in electoral security is a fraction of what is needed – Axios



News Driven: McConnell added his name last week to a $ 250 million bilateral amendment to a pending draft budget, a dramatic change from his earlier disruption of cybersecurity bills.

The lowest minimum cost to secure a US electoral system is $ 2.153 billion over the next 5 years, according to a calculation by the Brennan Center at NYU Law School. Lawrence Norden, director of the Brennan Election Reform Program, told Axios it would probably cost a similar sum every 5 years after that.

By numbers: According to Brennan's estimates, it will cost:

  • $ 734 million to buy voting machines that use paper ballots for the last few states, including Pennsylvania that have not yet switched. The paper leaves a consistent record of voters' intentions.
  • $ 486 million for secure voter registration systems.
  • $ 833 million for cyber security at state and local elections, including $ 55 million for county-level cybersecurity staff, employing 1 employee every 10 counties, and $ 9.6 million for website security.
  • $ 100 million for post-election audit.

This is not just a problem with the voting machine: Public debate on election security often boils down to exchanging machines without paper ballots for machines with them.

  • "People find it easy to wrap their heads around paper bulletins," Norden says. "But there are many other ways to attack elections that have nothing to do with voting machines. If you look at successful attacks around the world, they are targeting databases and voter reporting systems."

Many of these costs are repeated: 'Equipment is aging. Voting machines need to be replaced every 10 years, "Norden says.

  • Personnel, web security and other costs are repeated year-round, year after year.
  • "People think that on election day, they just go and vote," says Earl Matthews, chief strategy officer of the security firm Verodin and a major-general of the Air Force in retirement. "But this process actually started many months earlier."

The federal government does not have to bear the full cost of cybersecurity. In fact, most countries would prefer some degree of autonomy in the conduct of elections.

  • But states cannot realistically fight nations without a little more help.
  • "The federal government has a responsibility to share," says Christopher Delusio, policy director at the University of Pittsburgh's cybercentre, who often writes about the cost of securing elections.

Politics: A GOP aide emphasized to Axios that by $ 250 million, the total amount of electoral security funding allocated to states since 2018 exceeds $ 600 million.

  • Previously, the $ 380 million already reported in Brennan's valuation was not entirely new – it was money that had been set aside for grants to electoral systems by legislation passed after the pendulum of Florida's hanging election in 2000
  • The House sent more substantial plans to the McConnell Senate. The People's Law, the first bill passed by the House this session, allocated nearly $ 1.6 billion for election security – including $ 1.5 billion for equipment and $ 55 million for "bug" programs.

Bottom line: $ 250 million is a security advance, not a full bill.


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