States turn to election security funds to pay off coronavirus costs
Some cash-strapped states have dipped into their election security funds provided to them by the $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help pay for their responses to the coronavirus outbreak.
The money from the from the mammoth bill was included to help states protect the 2020 elections from malicious cyber activity.
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Alabama have either used or intend to these funds, as the pandemic continues to plague the country, ABC News reports.
“We are assessing all election security and administration needs and will allocate accordingly,” Wanda Murren, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania secretary of State, told the network.
“We do foresee using some of that at least while the new coronavirus comes in,” Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea also said. “Our election system was geared towards a precinct-based voting majority, now we are going to have to centralize all of those operations.”
About $400 million was set aside to help states bulk up their security efforts in the coming elections. However, several states have said that they now have to choose between ensuring a safe election and purchasing medical supplies like personal protective equipment and breathing apparatuses to spend their money.
The National Association of Secretaries of State gave every state guidelines on how to properly secure their elections, but has noted that how each state spends its money during an emergency is up to them.
“As with any federal funds, states have questions about how they can be used, timing and other logistics, and are looking to the federal government for guidance on these issues,” a spokesperson for the group told ABC News. “I would defer to states on their specific plans for spending their portion of the money.”