Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Thursday led a bipartisan group of seventeen secretaries of state in a letter to congressional leaders Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. In the letter, the secretaries asked them to support adequately funding the Election Assistance Commission during the fiscal year 2021.
“Thank you for your generous financial support during the 2020 Federal Election Cycle,” the secretaries of state wrote. “The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds used to assist in the administration of the election ensured a safe and sanitary election was observed on November 3.”
“As we move forward, it is of utmost importance that election officials are equipped with the necessary resources to continue providing open, fair and secure elections, while also maintaining public confidence in the process,” the group continued. “The U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), provides support, guidance and assistance to state and local election officials for voter registration, voter participation, election equipment certification, cyber security, voter file maintenance and much more. Between 2010 and 2019, the EAC’s budget was cut significantly by almost 50%, severely limiting their ability to assist states and localities with the administration of the election.”
“While we are most appreciative of the funds appropriated to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a great deal of work to be accomplished to address the issues witnessed during this election cycle,” the secretaries of state stated. “Therefore, as the chief election officials of our respective states, we encourage robust funds be allocated to the EAC for fiscal year 2021 for various initiatives including, but not limited to: Conducting a comprehensive post-election review with a special focus on procedures implemented due to COVID-19; Improving the security and auditing of election systems; Implementing a robust training program available to all election officials nationwide Assembling a team of experts to research and establish non-voting technology best practices and resources to better secure voter registration systems and other election related systems that are not a part of the current testing and certification program; Implementing procedures and a process to certify electronic poll books; Establishing a team dedicated to recommending improvements to the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines and maintaining modern and agile certification requirements; Recruiting election personnel to assist with the clearinghouse function of the EAC to disseminate election administration information to election officials and educate the public; Developing web tools for voters and election officials to provide information such as deadlines, registration, legislation, voter options, education, etc.; Implementing a voter helpdesk team to assist voters; Increasing grant related resources to assist states with technical guidance and oversight of grant funds, including CARES Act and other HAVA grants; and Establishing a new Federal Advisory Committee Act Board consisting of local election officials who will serve to increase the EAC’s ability to communicate with and reach local officials with relevant information related to the elections process.”
“We are committed to protecting the integrity and credibility of the electoral process, and with your assistance, the EAC will be able to continue to support election officials in this pursuit,” the election officials wrote.
Merrill was joined in the letter by Republicans and Democrats alike: Kevin Meyer of Alaska, Katie Hobbs of Arizona, John Thurston of Arkansas, Paul Pate of Iowa, Scott Schwab of Kansas, Kyle Ardoin of Louisiana, Jocelyn Benson of Michigan, Steve Simon of Minnesota, Maggie Toulouse Oliver of New Mexico, Frank LaRose of Ohio, Shemia Fagan of Oregon, Nellie Gorbea of Rhode Island, Steve Barnett of South Dakota, Jim Condos of Vermont, Mac Warner of West Virginia and Ed Buchanan of Wyoming.