House Republicans are pressing to defund the sole federal agency that exclusively works to ensure the voting process is secure
WASHINGTON—House Republicans are seeking to defund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the sole federal agency that exclusively works to ensure the voting process is secure, as part of proposed federal budget cuts.
The defunding move comes as the EAC is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to examine an attack late last year on the agency’s computer systems by a Russian-speaking hacker.
House Republicans say the EAC no longer is necessary and that the Federal Election Commission could bear its responsibilities. They also say the agency’s work duplicates efforts at the Department of Homeland Security and FBI and that it improperly interferes in the right of states to conduct their elections.
“People supporting the EAC are quite frankly proponents for a greater federal role in our elections,” said Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) at a June committee hearing on the proposal to eliminate the agency. “States themselves, they’re responsible for all the elections. We do not have a federally run election system.”
However, Democrats have said Russian meddling in the 2016 election has boosted the importance of the EAC. The agency helps train local officials on such tasks as recruiting poll workers and, during last year’s campaign, distributed memos keeping election officials apprised on potential vulnerabilities in voting systems.
The commission “has a unique task that they’re best situated to accomplish,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who has been fighting to preserve the agency.
Mr. Quigly said that the intelligence community judgment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign of interference in the 2016 election makes it the “worst time” to try to eliminate the agency.
“Cutting funding to it is a green light to Putin to do it again,” said Mr. Quigley.
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