Months after Democratic leaders in Congress backed away from providing billions of badly needed dollars to support local election improvements, we now learn that the Senate plans to add the very same amount of money to the Defense Department’s $715 billion budget — even though the Pentagon didn’t ask for it.
You read that right: Congress gave an extra $10 billion to the Pentagon but zero to elections, ignoring multiple warnings and research the past three years emphasizing that America’s crumbling, underfunded election infrastructure presents a national security risk.
It’s not as if the threats to elections are subtle. The last six years have brought us stunning misinformation circulated by hostile foreign nations; direct attacks by those countries on our election infrastructure; a violent insurrection at the Capitol spurred by a former president convinced he is the rightful leader of the country; and continued violent threats to election administrators. Meanwhile, election administrators have been screaming into the wind, trying to convince Congress that Windows 7 is not a sustainable operating system for elections. Anemic election budgets are also to blame for the paperless voting machine problem. Despite a recent push for paper-backed voting, several counties are stuck with paperless systems. That makes them frequent targets of election skeptics, especially amid the intense new attention on audits and claims of hacked machines.
Election security is a war in which America is losing ground. Our generals are our representatives, and county workers are the soldiers, being sent into battle against hostile nation states with broken guns and body armor made of cardboard. The combatants are not the U.S. government versus Russia, or the U.S. government versus China. It is your county clerk versus those massive, well-resourced countries, and our representatives have told them to figure it out on their own.