WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, and 34 of her colleagues sent a letter urging President Biden to include significant funding for election security grants in the upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 federal budget. These grants would help state and local governments improve the administration and security of federal elections.
“The administration of our elections requires year-round, ongoing work that takes planning and substantial resources, and additional funding will be critical for election officials as they continue to get ready for next year’s elections,” the senators wrote.
“We must ensure that state and local election officials have sufficient resources now to not only administer our elections but to make continued improvements. We should not wait for things to go wrong - for equipment to age and become unusable or a new cybersecurity threat to emerge - before we take action to strengthen the resilience of our elections. We appreciate your continued leadership and we look forward to working with you to defend our democracy,” the senators continued.
In addition to Klobuchar, the letter was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and
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. Earlier this month, Klobuchar, Peters, and 22 of their colleagues called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prioritize funding for election security through existing grant programs.
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.
Full text of the letter is available HERE and below:
Dear Mr. President:
As you prepare your budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, we urge you to include $5 billion in funding for election security grants for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to support the administration of our free and fair elections. These resources are a crucial source of funding that state and local election officials on the frontlines of our democracy use to ensure that every eligible American can cast their ballot and make their voice heard.
Importantly the Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the 2022 midterm election - where more than 110 million Americans voted - was safe and secure, just as it did after the last presidential election. The funding we have dedicated to our elections in recent years contributed to this success, but we must continue to invest in this effort. The administration of our elections requires year-round, ongoing work that takes planning and substantial resources, and additional funding will be critical for election officials as they continue to get ready for next year’s elections.
Election security is national security and we must fund it as such but inconsistent and unpredictable funding over the years has too often been the experience for those who run our country’s elections. States and local governments need the resources to replace, upgrade, and maintain voting machines, voter registration databases, and other systems, invest in cybersecurity to keep pace with evolving technology, hire and train officials, improve accessibility, and protect election officials and workers who have faced a rise in threats in the course of carrying out their duties.
We have heard repeatedly from election officials about their need for reliable funding to do their jobs. Just over a year ago, Secretaries of State and Chief Election Officials requested $5 billion in federal investment – a need that has not yet been met – with additional resources needed in the coming decade to support improvements to election infrastructure as election officials face continued challenges following years of underinvestment.
While we continue to work to pass legislation to make voting easier and protect our election officials, we must ensure that state and local election officials have sufficient resources now to not only administer our elections but to make continued improvements. We should not wait for things to go wrong - for equipment to age and become unusable or a new cybersecurity threat to emerge - before we take action to strengthen the resilience of our elections.
We appreciate your continued leadership and we look forward to working with you to defend our democracy.