$380 Million in Election Security Money Coming Soon to States

Early voters use electronic ballot casting machines at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio.

Early voters use electronic ballot casting machines at the Franklin County Board of Elections, Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. John Minchillo/AP

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California will get $36 million to secure its election systems; smaller states get less.

The Election Assistance Commission is scurrying to get a massive infusion of election security money appropriated last week out to states in time for the 2018 midterm elections.

The last-minute omnibus spending bill, which President Trump signed March 23, included $380 million to shore up security vulnerabilities in state and local voting systems that the U.S. intelligence community concluded Russian government-linked hackers tried to exploit during the 2016 presidential contest.

The Congressionally-chartered Election Assistance Commission, which is responsible for distributing the funds, “is releasing this money quickly so that the grants can have an immediate impact, even utilized possibly in the 2018 election cycle,” according to a Thursday statement.

The money is being distributed using a formula based on states’ population of voting age residents.

California, for example, will receive more than $36 million in federal funds while North Dakota will receive just about $3 million, according to a commission tally.

The spending bill requires states to match 5 percent of the federal investment within two years.  

This is the first federal cash infusion to state election systems since 2010, the commission said.

“This much-needed funding will provide states with essential resources to secure and improve election systems,” Chairman Thomas Hicks said in a statement. “The EAC is committed to making these funds available as soon as feasibly possible, and we fully expect this money will be deployed in meaningful ways to support the 2018 elections.”

The Election Assistance Commission was created by the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which responded to outdated voting systems identified during the disputed 2000 presidential election.