Biden Continues to Fight For Federal Investments in Local Election Departments With New Budget
CHICAGO — The Election Infrastructure Initiative released the following statement applauding President Biden for investing in election departments in his new budget.
The budget proposes $5 billion over 10 years for state and local election departments with $1.625 billion in the first year. This is the second year in a row Biden has proposed a substantial investment in election infrastructure. Unfortunately, Congress cut funding from $400 million to $75 million in last year’s budget.
“While the last Congress invested in strengthening our nation’s infrastructure, unfortunately, local election departments were left out,” said Tiana Epps-Johnson, executive director for the Center for Tech and Civic Life. “I’m grateful to the White House for recognizing the need for a long-term, sustained investment of federal funding for local election departments so they have the resources to afford the basics, from secure storage for ballots to secure workspace for staff to funds to meet surging costs for paper ballots and postage.”
“President Biden knows that $75 million from Congress last year was salt in the wound for local election staff who worked through one challenge after another since the 2020 election without enough federal funding,” said Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government. “There is bipartisan support from state and local election officials for federal funding. It’s time for action.”
Votebeat reported recently, “For the last two years, local election administrators and elected officials have been consistently asking Congress to allocate $400 million for elections in the FY2023 omnibus. But as talks of the omnibus wore on, the number kept getting smaller. The first one I heard tossed around was $200 million — a tiny fraction of the actual need. Shockingly, $75 million was the final total.”
According to a recent study from MIT, public spending on election services ranks near the bottom, about the same as what local governments spend on parking facilities.
The Department of Homeland Security in 2017 officially designated election infrastructure as “part of the existing Government Facilities critical infrastructure sector.” DHS noted that election infrastructure “is vital to our national interests, and cyberattacks on this country are becoming more sophisticated, and bad cyber actors – ranging from nation-states, cybercriminals and hacktivists – are becoming more sophisticated and dangerous.”
Unfortunately, despite the designation from DHS, the federal government does not consistently fund local election departments.
The Election Infrastructure Initiative (EII) has estimated election funding needs at $53 billion over 10 years. That includes $49.3 billion needed for election administration and operations, $1.8 billion needed to replace antiquated voting machines, $935 million needed to update statewide voter registration systems, $256 million to bolster post-election audits and $999 million for cybersecurity improvements and maintenance.
Previously, EII rallied a bipartisan group of state and local officials from around the country that called on Congress to allocate funding to local and state election administrators for secure election infrastructure.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life is a nonpartisan nonprofit harnessing the promise of technology to modernize the American voting experience. We connect Americans with the information they need to become and remain civically engaged, and ensure that our elections are more professional, inclusive, and secure.
The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.
To speak with IRG Executive Director Sam Oliker-Friedland about their work to provide states with tools to create a more responsive election infrastructure, please contact Abigail Louisin at firstname.lastname@example.org