On September 13, NACo sent a letter to U.S. Senate leadership urging them to support a proposed amendment (S.A. 656) offered by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018 (H.R. 2810). The amendment would increase resources and assistance for state and local election systems to safeguard against cybersecurity attacks on elections infrastructure.
Counties traditionally administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing more than 109,000 polling places and coordinating more than 694,000 poll workers every two years. County election officials already work diligently with federal, state and other local election officials to ensure the safety and security of our voting systems.
The Graham-Klobuchar amendment would enhance the security of election systems by:
- Helping secure election systems ahead of the 2018 election by providing grant funding for states to implement security recommendations after receiving a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Risk and Vulnerability assessment. Leftover grant funds can be used to upgrade local election equipment.
- Requiring the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to hold public hearings and work with cyber experts to establish best practice recommendations for both election cybersecurity and election audits and providing grant funding for states & localities to implement those best practices.
- Establishing strong lines of communication between DHS, the Director of National Intelligence and state election officials regarding cyber threats, and allowing each state’s senior election official to receive a security clearance to receive briefings on cyber threats.
Since Congress must pass the NDAA bill annually, it frequently receives dozens of amendments. The U.S. Senate voted to proceed on the NDAA bill on Monday, September 11, and they are now working through the various amendments.
We encourage you to contact your senators today and ask them to support this amendment. NACo will continue to monitor federal efforts to strengthen elections security.
To read NACo’s letter, click here.
To learn more about the role of counties in the elections process, click here.