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State Sen. Beasley: Election infrastructure should be a top priority

As Alabamians, it’s important to remember that the national security issues we face as a nation often end up at our front door. That lesson has been reinforced more in recent years as our adversaries’ cyber capabilities have made it possible to target critical infrastructure here in the U.S., and Alabama specifically. However, few national priorities are more precious and worth defending than our election infrastructure.

During my time in elected government, I have been reminded of the need to aggressively defend Alabama’s most sensitive facilities and equipment from bad actors. Just in the last 5 years, we have seen sophisticated cyber-attacks hobble our pipelines, health systems, and municipal operations. Each one of these security breaches taught us new lessons about what we can do to prevent similar events from happening again. In the case of our election infrastructure, the lights are blinking red, and Congress needs to heed the warnings.

Our state’s election officials have worked diligently to protect our voting systems from cyber threats despite a steep drop in financial support from Congress. Over the past 5 years, federal funding for election infrastructure—which is dedicated to the most pressing needs across all 50 states—has tumbled from an average of $400 million to $55 million in the government funding package that passed last month. Meanwhile, threats to our nation’s election system from countries like China, Russia, and Iran, remain a serious concern of America’s intelligence community ahead of the 2024 election. In other words: Now is not the time to be skimping on investment in our election infrastructure.

Another important development has taken place over the past several years while Congressional support has slumped. Inflation has made it so that your dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to, as anyone who has gone to a grocery store can tell you. That applies to our election officials too, who are tasked with procuring the equipment and software to upgrade the technological capabilities and cyber defenses that keep our elections secure.  

The call to action is clear: Congress must restore federal funding for election infrastructure in fiscal year 2025 to the $400 million mark that was established under the previous administration. As a staunch conservative, I proudly stand for fiscal responsibility, and I also believe in defending our country and playing a proactive role in addressing the pressing challenges facing our election infrastructure. This is not a partisan issue—it’s a patriotic one. Investing in our election infrastructure is an investment in our national security. 

The fiscal year 2025 appropriations package represents a critical opportunity to strengthen the safety and security of future election cycles. Enhanced funding would not only address immediate needs, such as securing the latest computer operating systems and cyber training for our election workers, but would also enable us to stay ahead of emerging threats through innovation and advanced cybersecurity measures. 

My constituents in South East Alabama have seen enough foreign cyber-attacks on our critical infrastructure to see the need for increased investment in our cyber defenses. Nowhere is this need more necessary than our election infrastructure. Congress needs to act accordingly.

Billy Beasley is a member of the Alabama Senate, representing District 28. 

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