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Kansas would benefit by returning to Trump-era funding of election infrastructure needs



President Joe Biden has so frequently claimed that the return of former President Donald Trump represents an existential threat to democracy that it has become practically his only argument for voters to return him to office.

But a closer examination of how each President actually supported our election system during their respective terms calls this argument into serious question.

During President Trump’s administration, Congress allocated anywhere from $380 million (in FY2018) to $425 million (in FY2020) to meet America’s election infrastructure needs through Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Election Security Grants. Fast forward to the Biden administration, and that level of commitment has dropped precipitously to just $75 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

And this year, the most recent, last-minute budget bill passed by Congress included only $55 million for election security.

But President Biden hasn’t just woefully underfunded programs designed to strengthen the states’ election systems. He has also acted to subvert the entire election system. On March 7, 2021, President Joe Biden directed the agencies of his administration to use federal funds appropriated by Congress for the operation of their agencies to instead “promote voter registration and voter participation.”

And, of course, just coincidentally, that undue influence has been felt disproportionately among demographics that favor President Biden’s reelection in 2024.

The effects of this executive order have already been felt right here in Kansas.

According to left-wing nonprofit organization Vot-ER’s CEO Krista Postai, federal dollars funneled through her organization to FQHCs in southeast Kansas that were used to send 65,000 text messages to influence the 2022 Value Them Both amendment referendum. She proudly concluded in a webinar about their efforts, “As you can see, we had an impact.”

As a Kansas state representative, chair of the House Committee on Elections, and a professor of homeland security at Wichita State University, I have grave concerns about the safety and security challenges facing our dedicated election officials and poll workers.

Particularly in our many rural regions and communities, election offices are lacking some of the most basic resources they need, not only to prepare for and counter the security threats they face but to simply manage the election process efficiently and effectively.

I am even more concerned by President Joe Biden’s unconstitutional effort to divert funds appropriated by Congress to fund healthcare, food benefits and other social programs to put his thumb on the scale and influence the 2024 presidential election.

My concerns only grew last month when the bill we passed to try to stop this inappropriate activity in Kansas, House Bill 2618, was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Election security is national security. The US Department of Homeland Security designated America’s election infrastructure as “critical infrastructure” in 2017. If we expect our hardworking election officers and workers to do their jobs and keep our elections safe and secure, then we need to make sure they have all the tools and resources necessary to do so.

The paltry $55 million that Congress allocated for election security in fiscal 2024, approximately $1 million to each state, is not enough. The way to ensure our election system remains secure is to return to Trump-era funding levels, authorized through the people’s representatives in Congress, and stop the subversion of our electoral processes by an extra-constitutional misappropriation of funds designed to favor one party.

Pat Proctor, R-Leavenworth, was elected to the Kansas House in 2020, where he represents the 41st District as the chairman of the House Elections Committee.

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