It shouldn’t matter which party you belong to (or if you belong to no party at all): fixing our totally broken election security should be a priority. This is a topic we’ve written about on Techdirt for nearly 20 years. The broken system of electronic voting has always been a security disaster, and now with more direct attempts to influence elections happening, it should be even more of a priority. And yet, following the lead in the House, this week the Senate voted down an amendment from Senator Patrick Leahy providing more funding for election security.
The vote was almost exactly along partisan lines, with only one crossover (Senator Bob Corker was the only Republican who voted for the amendment). While there were some arguments made against the bill, they don’t make much sense:
Sen. Blunt said that states are responsible for running their elections, not the federal government, and that providing more funds would give the impression of federal overreach.
Sen. Lankford said on the floor Wednesday, referencing the omnibus funds, “the $ 380 million amount is what was needed for the moment,” and indicated he didn’t want to fund states beyond that right now.
There can be reasonable questions in how this money is being spent, and what’s being done to actually secure elections, but the fact that this seems to be becoming a partisan issue should worry us all. And, I know some of you will be tempted to do this, but claiming that Republicans are against this because insecure technology helps them get elected is not a serious response. That’s not only cynical, but almost certainly incorrect.
However, at a time when Congress (including many of the Senators who voted against this) have been grandstanding about tech companies being used to influence elections, the fact that they would then not really care that much about our woefully undersecured voting infrastructure just seems ridiculous. For years, we’ve argued that when tech policy issues get partisan, they get stupid, and it would be a real shame for election security, of all topics, to become stupidly partisan.
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