The nickname for Senate Majority Mitch McConnell—Moscow Mitch—has definitely entered the mainstream, and it’s definitely both enraged him and made him give in on funding for election security—to an extent. The $250 million he signed off on for money to help states is “better than nothing,” but far from enough experts say.
“This amount falls short of the $600 million that passed in the House, which is much closer to meeting the need for proper investment in election security,” Marian K. Schneider, president of Verified Voting said. “Congress has the obligation to protect the country from threats to national security and has the opportunity to act on this nonpartisan issue—after all, everyone votes on the same equipment.” Everyone as in both Democrats and Republicans, but the states have wildly varied systems and equipment.
As Democrat Ron Wyden pointed out, the $250 million McConnell signed off on could be used by states to buy more insecure equipment. “This isn’t election security, it’s a sham,” the Oregon senator said. What needs to be done, all experts agree, is back up paper and audits and a basic level of requirements states have to meet. Larry Norden, director of the Electoral Reform program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, points out that this legislation exists. “The House funding bill provides more money than offered by the Senate and includes parameters on spending to ensure the most critical election security priorities are addressed first, like replacing paperless voting machines and implementing audits that check electronic results with paper records of votes,” he said.
McConnell insists that having states meet basic levels of security is basically totalitarianism, calling it a “takeover” of elections. He remains adamant that the House legislation will not come to the Senate floor. Of course he’s going to fight this—the only way Republicans can win elections is by cheating, even if that means letting Vladimir Putin hack them.