House Democrats include $500M for election security in annual appropriations bill


Democrats on a House Appropriations Committee panel included $500 million to boost election security as part of their version of an annual funding bill introduced Tuesday. 

The version of the fiscal 2021 Financial Services and General Government spending bill rolled out by the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government would appropriate half a billion dollars to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to “enhance election technology and make election security improvements.”

The bill, which will be debated by the subcommittee Wednesday, specifies that states may only use the election security funds to replace “direct-recording electronic” voting equipment with voting systems that use some form of paper ballots. States would only be allowed to use any remaining funds once they have certified to the EAC that all direct-recording election equipment has been replaced. 

Experts have strongly advised against the use of direct-recording electronic voting equipment, which has no backup paper record of how an individual voted. 

The majority of states have phased out these types of equipment, though New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice estimated last year that around 16 million Americans were still likely to vote on paperless equipment during the 2020 election. 

Subcommittee Chairman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) said in a statement Tuesday that “now more than ever, it is important that we provide the Federal government with the resources it needs,” noting that the funding legislation rolled out this week “continues investment in election infrastructure and security to help our state and local governments conduct safe and secure elections.”

Congress appropriated $425 million to the EAC to help states increase election security as part of the fiscal year 2020 spending bills. The amount marked a compromise between the House and Senate, with the House proposing $600 million and the Senate $225 million. 

The coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law by President Trump in March included a further $400 million for the EAC to help states address new challenges to elections posed by the pandemic.

The new election security funds are likely to face some GOP opposition, with Republicans raising concerns over federalizing elections during past debates over election security funds and other legislation.

The funding bill was rolled out as Democrats, voting rights groups, and other advocacy organizations have ramped up pressure for more funds to be sent to states to address coronavirus challenges to elections. 

The House included $3.6 billion for election issues in its HEROES Act coronavirus stimulus bill. It passed the chamber in May, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has described it as a “liberal wish list” and refused to take it up in the upper chamber. McConnell has announced plans to push through another stimulus bill sometime this summer.

Tags Donald Trump Election Security Mike Quigley Mitch McConnell

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