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New England News

Vermont Secretary Of State Helps Detail HAVA Funding Distributed To States

A voting booth

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has released grants for 49 of the 55 states and territories eligible to receive HAVA – Help America Vote Act – funds from the 2018 federal budget.  Officials from the commission were joined by Vermont’s Secretary of State during a regional conference call today to provide an overview of how states plan to use the newly appropriated funds.
Each state that receives funds for Election Security Grants under HAVA must match 5 percent of the award.  In the Northeast Connecticut’s grant is just over $5 million, Massachusetts will receive $7,890,854, Vermont gets $3 million and New York will get more than $19 million.

EAC Vice Chairwoman Christy McCormick noted that new voting equipment and enhanced cybersecurity protection comprise nearly two-thirds of planned investments.  “Thirty-six percent of the funds will be spent by 41 states planning to improve election cybersecurity.  Twenty-eight percent of the total funds will be spent on the purchase of new voting equipment in 34 states.  Fourteen percent of the total funds will be used to improve voter registration systems in 29 states. It’s evident that the timely administration of these funds has allowed states to put into motion much needed improvements that can shore up security, strengthen resiliency, improve accessibility, enhance the efficiency of federal elections.”

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos called the funds crucial and says the allocation will allow his state to accelerate plans to replace old optical scan tabulators before the 2020 election.  “It’s important to note that in every state we all have procurement processes that take time and detail. A sudden infusion of funds doesn’t mean an immediate fix. We will also be using these funds for implementation of a brand new accessible voting system. It allows people with impairments to be able to vote independently and privately. We’ll also be using these funds for our post-election audits. However it is important to note that the resources we have now for this work may not be enough if Congress moves forward with mandating audit specifics as they have in the rewrite of the Secure Elections Act.”

Condos, who is also the chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State, advocates for election security. He says states must be provided with adequate and ongoing funding to deal with cybersecurity issues.  “Cybersecurity is like a race without a finish line.  It’s not a one-time expenditure. While the HAVA funds are critical in supporting states to bolster our on-going efforts both in cybersecurity and in updating aging infrastructure states need ongoing dedicated maintenance funding to insure that we have the resources to keep evolving too, to stay one step ahead of those who are attacking the very core of our of our democracy. Ongoing resources will allow states to better prepare and invest in replacement equipment. Receiving those one-time funds every 10 to 15 years is helpful but not conducive to ongoing needs.”

The Election Assistance Commission has disbursed 96 percent of the total $380 million in 5-year grant funding to states and territories.

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