A special thanks to the legislative staff of the National Association of Counties (NACo) for their work on this weekend’s expected passage of the “Omni” – Congress’ massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill.
Along with preventing a shutdown through September 30, this bill includes active forest management reforms, historic funding levels for PILT, two years of SRS funding, assistance in tackling the opioid issue, big jumps in infrastructure funding, and some new funding for mental health.
Also noteworthy is $380 million for election equipment upgrades and other election assistance tied to the Help American Vote Act of 2002. Below is the language and instructions from the congressional report on the election assistance funding.
ELECTION REFORM PROGRAM The bill provides $380,000,000 to the Election Assistance Commission to make payments to states for activities to improve the administration of elections for Federal office, including to enhance election technology and make election security improvements, as authorized under.. ( (H ~VA-) sections 101, 103, and 104 of the Help America Vote Act~02 (P.L. 107-252). Consistent with the requirements of HAVA, states may use this funding to: replace voting equipment that only records a voter’s intent electronically with equipment that utilizes a voter-verified paper record; implement a post-election audit system that provides a high-level of confidence in the accuracy of the final vote tally; upgrade election-related computer systems to address cyber vulnerabilities identified through DHS or similar scans or assessments of existing election systems; facilitate cybersecurity training for the state chief election official’s office and local election officials; implement established cybersecurity best practices for election systems; and fund other activities that will improve the security of elections for federal office.