Federal agency allows states to use election security funds for cleaning supplies to fight coronavirus

Federal agency allows states to use election security funds for cleaning supplies to fight coronavirus
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The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) on Tuesday announced it would allow states to use funds allocated by Congress for election security to fight the spread of coronavirus at the polls. 

The EAC said it would allow states to use the money, which totals over $800 million, to purchase disinfectant wipes, masks and other cleaning supplies in order to lower the risk of voters contracting coronavirus at the polls.

“The EAC considers these allowable costs purchased to protect the health and safety of poll workers, staff and voters during federal elections,” the EAC wrote in a notice announcing the change.

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The funds include $380 million allocated by Congress to states to shore up election security in 2018. It also includes the $425 million given to states as part of the 2020 appropriations cycle, money that has still not been made available but that states are allowed to incur expenses against. 

Both amounts were given to the EAC to distribute to states, with no specific instructions on how states could use the money beyond “activities to improve the administration of elections for Federal office,” according to the appropriations bill language. 

The EAC noted on Tuesday that the amount spent on cleaning supplies should be “reasonable” and that the cleaning supplies bought must be used for federal elections. 

The EAC made the announcement on the day that Florida, Illinois, and Arizona held primariesIn Ohio, the primary scheduled for Tuesday was postponed after the state’s top health official ordered polling sites closed to prevent the spread of the virus. 

States used the 2018 funds mostly on cybersecurity upgrades and to replace outdated equipment, according to the EAC. States have until April 27 to submit detailed budgets to receive portions of the $425 million.