H.R. 3412: The Election Security Assistance Act

Our nation’s election infrastructure is aging and at risk, as evidenced in the last presidential election. Two-thirds of counties in America used machines for the 2016 election that are over a decade old, and in most cases, the same equipment was used in the 2018 election. In a nationwide survey by the Brennan Center for Justice, the majority of state election officials reported needing to replace their voting equipment by 2020. State and local election officials echo the complaints that older machines are difficult to maintain and vulnerable to crashes, which lead to long lines at the polls and many other issues causing voters to distrust their election system.

Continuing on the efforts of Republicans in the last Congress, House Administration Committee Republicans have authored H.R. 3412, which provides much-needed security improvements and reinforcements for local election officials without overstepping the states’ authority to maintain their elections. H.R. 3412, the Election Security Assistance Act will assist states in securing their elections by providing the resources most important to state and local election administrators: infrastructure funding, appropriate security clearance assistance for election officials, a reporting structure for election cybersecurity incidents, and optional hands-on assistance through an Election Cyber Assistance Unit.

 

H.R. 3412: Election Security Assistance Act

  • Provides Federal grants to states to update their aging and at-risk election infrastructure –
    • $380 million (25% match from states) to assist states with cybersecurity enhancements and additional improvements to meet the needs of aging election systems. The amount was determined based on what was adequately appropriated for states last Congress.
    • Expands the definition of election infrastructure to include e-poll books to shield voter registration data from potential cybersecurity attacks.

 

  • Empowers state officials and increases reporting requirements for DHS –
    • Provides Top Secret Clearance to election officials to better facilitate the sharing of sensitive election security information among Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioners, EAC Executive Director, EAC General Counsel and chief state election officials.
    • Increases reporting requirements for the Department of Homeland Security to notify state election officials of a cyber intrusion and reports on any foreign threats in a state.

 

  • Increases resources for election officials –
    • Creates the first-ever Election Cyber Assistance Unit, to connect state and local election officials with leading election administration and cybersecurity experts from across the country.
    • Requires the Election Assistance Commission to conducting a study on the best ways to design ballots to maximize voter participation by minimizing confusing ballots and user error.

 

For updates on H.R. 3412, follow it on Congress.gov.