[Screenshot image via NACo]

The National Association of Counties recently sent a letter to Congressional leaders making the case for improved and dedicated funding for local election administration. Here’s the text of the letter:

As the Senate and House Appropriations Committees finalize Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations, the National Association of Counties (NACo) respectfully request that you include funding to strengthen the integrity and safety of our nation’s elections system, and for it to be above the $250 million amount provided in S. 2524, the Senate-passed FY 2020 Financial Services appropriations bill.

In the United States, the nation’s 3,069 counties traditionally administer and fund elections at the local level, overseeing more than 109,000 polling places and coordinating more than 694,000 poll workers every two years. County election officials work diligently with federal, state and other local election officials to ensure the safety and security of our voting systems.

In addition to election administration, preserving the integrity and security of America’s elections remain a top priority for county officials. Local governments protect against hacks to voter rolls to alter data and attempts to remove election information from county websites. We also strategically place polling locations to ensure that they are accessible to voters and optimize the deployment of voting machines and poll workers, all while complying with federal and state requirements.

In order to meet these requirements and demands, we need consistent and meaningful engagement and consultation between intergovernmental partners. Furthermore, to address election challenges and improve our collective security efforts, counties support a dedicated, predictable federal funding stream to help local governments adequately secure elections, including upgrading and securing voting equipment.

We commend Congress for appropriating $380 million in funding in last year’s omnibus package. However, some of these resources remained at the state level and therefore were unable to assist county security efforts. Counties agree that these dollars are needed at all levels, and they are especially vital to county governments who oversee and administer safe and secure elections.

Therefore, we urge Congress to allocate additional funding for election security above the Senate level of $250 million, and we request that any new funds be administered either in coordination and in consultation with local governments,or directly made available to the discretion of local governments. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you to ensure adequate funding to strengthen the integrity and safety of our nation’s elections.

The fate of election security funding in Congress is a closely-watched topic in the election community right now – and the role of local election officials in 2020 (and every election year) is critical. Here’s hoping that NACo’s efforts on behalf of local officials nationwide helps to move the discussion forward in time for funding to be made available in what’s almost certain to be a high-turnout, high-intensity election. Stay tuned …