House Dem seeks to restore funding to the Election Assistance Commission

House Dem seeks to restore funding to the Election Assistance Commission
© Greg Nash

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill on Thursday to fund the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). 

The EAC provides services to state elections officials, including playing a role in election cybersecurity. The EAC is currently slated to be entirely defunded by the end of 2018. 

"In order to prevent future attacks against our democratic process, we must harden our defenses," Quigley said in remarks launching his amendment.

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“Eliminating the EAC, the federal government’s only independent direct line of communication to state and local election officials, would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve election systems and provide states with the support they need to hold accurate and secure elections."

The EAC is not the only agency involved in election cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security declared elections critical infrastructure at the end of last year, allowing it to provide voluntary assistance to states on a variety of security fronts. 

The EAC's role in cybersecurity is in certifying laboratories for states to use to test the security of voting machines and conducting some of its own testing. The testing, either EAC's or a private lab's, is based on standards designed by another agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. States are not required to use EAC's testing regime.

EAC services also include training, designing voluntary poll worker guidelines and working on a national voter registration form. 

Some states have complained that the EAC is intended as a first step toward federalizing elections, despite its services being voluntary. 

The Quigley amendment seeks $9.2 million to fund the EAC.