TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey is poised to use some $10 million in federal and state funds to beef up election security ahead of this year’s midterm and going through 2023, Secretary of State Tahesha Way said Friday.
Way, who runs the agency that oversees New Jersey’s elections, unveiled the Democratic administration’s plans for spending the more than $10 million that Congress and the state set aside this year. She said her “one priority” has been making sure the right to vote is secure.
“Our citizens deserve a secure election system that fulfills their unalienable right to participate in their government free from interference,” Way said.
The announcement comes about three months ahead of a general election in New Jersey, where a U.S. Senate seat is atop the ticket, as well as all 12 House seats. The announcement also comes as special counsel Robert Mueller investigates Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Among the plans for the money, is the establishment of a position either in the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness or the Division of Military and Veterans Affairs that would be focused on cybersecurity and elections.
Other money would go toward setting up a pilot program to let officials buy or lease voting systems that produce a paper audit trail. The department said the program would first operate in small jurisdictions with a small number of voting machines.
Funds would also be used for roughly a half-dozen other broad categories, including setting up a program to assess physical vulnerabilities at polling places in counties, as well as the creation of a mobile app that to steer voters to election information.
The Department of State said it has not been made aware of any election-related security breaches in New Jersey.
The funding is aimed at new initiatives, but the department said in a statement it already conducts cybersecurity training exercises with the U.S. Homeland Security Department, among other efforts including helping county officials review voter rolls.
The funds include about $9.7 million from the federal government, which Congress approved in March and President Donald Trump signed into law. About $500,000 comes from a state matching fund. The federal legislation set aside $380 million in grants for the states.
The money is distributed by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission under Help America Vote Act of 2002.
The money will finance programs through 2023.