U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), along with 37 of their colleagues, wrote a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging an increase in funding for election security grants and the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to help secure upcoming elections in New Mexico and across the country.
According to a press release, the EAC is established by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring accessible, secure and accurate elections. Since its creation, the EAC has provided essential assistance to state and local election officials, set voting standards, certified voting equipment and administered the country's most comprehensive election survey, the Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), notes the release.
“Today, more than at any other time in our nation's history, election officials face unique challenges that require federal support,” the senators wrote. “As we approach the 2020 elections, we must ensure that they have the resources they need to combat foreign interference and ensure that every American has easy access to the ballot box.”
The senators continued, “Recently, the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government voted to approve $250 million in grants to state and local governments to improve election security. This is far less than what is required to address ongoing election security concerns, and is less than half of the $600 million appropriated by the House this June. State and local officials require significant resources to improve election security and modernize election infrastructure. In addition to having more funding, the House Appropriations Committee includes language that would help strengthen our elections, like ensuring that federal dollars are used to replace paperless machines and improve election cybersecurity. As you work to pass appropriations for FY20, we urge you to include the highest possible appropriation and to accept the strong requirements enumerated in the House bill. These provisions are necessary to ensure election officials have the resources they need to secure our elections.”
Congress provided $380 million for election security grants under HAVA in FY 2018, of which New Mexico received nearly $3.7 million. "However, the Republican majority in Congress provided no further funding in FY 2019. New Mexico is using these funds to upgrade voting equipment, conduct risk assessments, fund security staff and training, improve security of its voter registration system and protect county-level systems from cyber risks," says the press release.