The Election Security Strategy Team (ESST) met with Senator Durbin to discuss efforts to pass election security funding in the Senate – noting that the House has passed the SAFE and Appropriations Acts, allocating $600M for election security grants to states.

Senator Durbin commented that he was surprised that McConnell supported even $250K for that purpose. He allowed that the national day of action which we participated in last month, may have been a factor in that. Senator Durbin indicated that the appellation “Moscow Mitch” was likely also part of it as a motivating factor. He agreed that $250K is insufficient – Illinois may only get less than $1M of that, which will not go very far.

In our interest of promoting the most secure voting equipment, we proposed adding requirements (or at least guidelines) as to how the appropriations would be spent. We felt that this could be appreciated across the aisle as “accountability”. Senator Durbin immediately indicated that the GOP was not going to support any federal standards or guidelines on election equipment or processes.

The ESST team added its support to internet infrastructure security consulting (what we in Illinois term “Cyber Navigators”) and the Senator replied that this was his highest area of concern. While he understand the risk of “vote flipping” through hacking of polling place election equipment, he places a higher priority on the security of the back-end infrastructure. Perhaps this perspective strengthens the case for funding on back-end security.

When we asked for his advice on our focus and efforts, Senator Durbin indicated that McConnell was the correct focus and while physical organizing efforts such as our recent rally were useful, he highly recommended a concentrated effort through social media.

We offer Senator Durbin’s advice here as we support another day of action to secure our vote on November 13, 2019.

ACTION STEPS: Please use social media on this date to demand that #MoscowMitch #SecureOurVote. We also recommend phone calls to Mitch McConnell’s D.C. office on November 13. He can be reached at (202) 224-2541.

Written by Ed Spire and edited by Rose Colacino

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