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House Republicans Are Trying to Defund Election Security

A nonpartisan government watchdog group, Issue One, has asked congressional appropriators to allocate $400 million for election security this year. That's more than the $96 million Joe Biden has requested, and a lot more than the $0 House Republicans want. Election security? That's for losers.

The Republicans' desire to zero out election security is partly due to their general interest in cutting government spending, but is also due to lies about election security that circulate on right-wing media sites. One might think that people concerned about election security might want to spend at least $96 million to enhance it. If one thought that, however, one would be wrong. Now that election security has joined the culture wars as a new front, all bipartisan efforts to deal with it are doomed. The Republicans' view is: If Democrats want it, then we must oppose it. In the past, election security was relatively noncontroversial. No longer.

Republicans are not entirely on the same page on this. Republican secretaries of state from some red states have asked for the funding. A letter to House appropriators from a bipartisan group of former politicians, including former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D), former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R), and former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson (R), reads in part: "This investment is essential to protecting our nation's elections from foreign interference, cyber, and physical threats against election offices and officials." A second letter, signed by 21 state and local election administrators from both parties reads in part: "Responding to cybersecurity attacks from foreign adversaries, countering threats, abuse and harassment of election officials (80% of whom are women) that cross state lines, and administering federal mandates on voter registration and ballot access all involve federal action."

So maybe House Republicans want the private sector to fund election security? Well, no. They are working on a bill that would make private donations for election security illegal. Twenty-eight states already have such a law on the books. They definitely don't want Zuckerbucks. Could it be that they would prefer there be no election security so that malign actors can get their way? They're not saying. (V)

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