WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, and Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released the statements below after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated election security as a key funding priority. Under new DHS guidance for the Homeland Security Grant Program, states receiving this federal funding must dedicate resources for this purpose and work with election officials to develop plans for using these grants.
Last month, Klobuchar and Peters led a letter with 22 of their colleagues in calling on DHS to prioritize funding for election security through its existing grant programs.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. That’s why it’s critical that the Department of Homeland Security is acting on our call to prioritize funding for election security and strengthen our election infrastructure,” said Klobuchar. “This new guidance will provide states with additional resources to strengthen cybersecurity, safeguard our voting systems, and protect election workers on the frontlines of our democracy. As Chair of the Rules Committee, I’ll keep fighting to ensure we have the resources in place to keep our elections safe and secure.”
“Any attempt to interfere with our democratic process is a national security concern. Requiring states and localities to use federal grants to fortify election systems will help counter this serious threat and strengthen faith in our system of governance,” said Peters. “These funds will also help address unacceptable threats against dedicated election workers who are essential to our democracy. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I will continue working to ensure governments of all sizes are prepared to counteract security threats and secure our elections.”
In addition to Klobuchar and Peters, the letter to DHS was signed by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL); Michael Bennet (D-CO); Angus King (I-ME); Peter Welch (D-VT); Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Chris Coons (D-DE); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Raphael Warnock (D-GA); Tim Kaine (D-VA); Mark Warner (D-VA); Tina Smith (D-MN); Ed Markey (D-MA); Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Ron Wyden (D-OR); Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); Alex Padilla (D-CA); Ben Ray Luján (D-NM); Cory Booker (D-NJ); Bob Casey (D-PA); Jeff Merkley (D-OR); and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee with oversight over federal elections, Klobuchar has long led efforts to improve election security and administration.
Last May, Klobuchar, Peters, and twelve of their colleagues urged DHS to help states effectively use funding from the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program and the Homeland Security Grant Program to improve election security.
In 2021, she introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, which would set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in, including by improving voting access, expanding early-in person voting and voting by mail, and modernizing election systems. All Senate Democrats cosponsored this legislation and voted to advance the bill in January 2022.
In September 2022, Klobuchar and Durbin introduced comprehensive legislation to address the rise in threats targeting election workers. The Election Worker Protection Act would provide states with the resources to recruit and train election workers and ensure these workers’ safety, while also instituting federal safeguards to shield election workers from intimidation and threats.
In June 2022, Klobuchar, Durbin, and 20 of their colleagues urged DHS and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to notify state and local law enforcement of rising threats against election workers.
In June 2022, Klobuchar and former Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) led successful efforts to call on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to expand the use of federal Help America Vote Act funding to protect election workers and officials against threats. Klobuchar and Blunt had also requested an update from the EAC in April 2022 on its efforts to support state and local election officials with administering the 2022 midterm elections.
In February 2022, Klobuchar successfully urged the Biden administration to prioritize election security funding to improve the administration of federal elections in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal. The same month, she and Durbin also called on the Justice Department to take additional action to protect election workers from threats to their safety.