May 16, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) emphasized the importance of funding the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which has seen its budget cut in half since 2010. During a Senate Rules Committee hearing, Senator King questioned the four members of the EAC about the agency’s role in ensuring the security of America’s elections, and expressed his surprise about the lack of resources devoted to the agency during a time when our elections have been targeted by foreign powers.
“I want to be sure I heard something correctly – your budget today is one half of what it was in 2010? That’s unbelievable,” said Senator King, after Commissioner Benjamin Hovland noted the agency’s reduced resources. “I mean, that’s like cutting the budget of the fire department in the middle of a five-alarm fire. We’ve never had such a serious attack on our electoral system as we’ve had in the last 3 years – and your budget is 50 percent of what it was 9 years ago...I’m not on the appropriations committee, but I’d like to volunteer to try to help on this funding question, because I think these folks are trying to do a very important complex job, and we ought to be sure they have the resources to do so.” (Starts at 0:00 in the second segment of Senator King’s remarks)
Elsewhere in his questioning, Senator King urged the EAC to emphasize the security of voter registration systems, noted that the commission is issuing certifications based on a 2005 standard despite rapid technological advancements, and emphasized the importance of sharing best practices that are being developed in individual states with others.
A member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator King has been among the Senate’s strongest advocates pushing for increased emphasis on securing American elections. In February, Senator King joined all the members of the Intelligence Committee to call on Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats to make the mandated reports on foreign election interference in U.S. elections available to all members of the Intelligence Committee. In September 2018, he pressed leaders of major social media platforms on their companies’ response to foreign influence operations that made use of their platforms in the 2016 elections, and emphasized three ways Americans can defend themselves: increased consumer scrutiny and media literacy, deterrence strategies, and technical changes by the platforms themselves.