House Republicans just voted to defund the agency that fights election hacking

All of the GOP's bluster about election fraud couldn't save the budget for the Election Administration Commission, the federal agency that deals with software security risks in America's creating, Windows-2000-based voting machines.

Everyone — the full House Republican caucus, House Democrats, President Trump, intelligence agencies and the security research community — agrees that fighting vote-machine hacking is paramount, but Committee Chairman Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) [(202) 225-5031/email] called it "fluff" when he led the GOP committee members to zero out the Commission's budget.

This year should present a real opportunity for needed reform, but the House's move last week could close the door to such a possibility. Any new voting security overhaul would almost certainly have to be implemented, at least in part, by the Election Assistance Commission, the very entity the lawmakers are attempting to gut. Even if Congress fails to reach an agreement on how to strengthen elections, the Commission would still remain a vehicle for setting standards on important (and now timely) matters like security protocols or measures to keep individuals from voting in multiple states.

Sure, some argue that election security should, like most voting issues, be left to states and municipalities. But even the most fiercely independent local elections administrators admit there's room for federal standard-setting and security assistance. The Election Assistance Commission was borne of a bipartisan agreement in the wake of the 2000 presidential election's hanging chad fiasco. Eliminating a meaningful federal role in election security is asking for another crisis at a time when the country's voting systems vulnerabilities are facing unprecedented threats.

It's true: There's plenty of "fluff" in the federal budget. But federal election security measures don't fall into that category.

Want Secure Elections? Then Maybe Don't Cut Security Funding [Dan S Wallach & Justin Talbot-Zorn]

(Image: Slot machines, Yamaguchi先生, CC-BY-SA)