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New Mexico gets $3.7M to tighten election cybersecurity

August 21, 2018

FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017, file photo, Kelly Monroe, investigator with the Georgia Secretary of State office, left, takes a look at a new voting machine that produces a paper record being tested at a polling site in Conyers, Ga. States have quickly tapped into $380 million from the federal government to help them shore up their election systems. A report released Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission says the largest chunk will be used to improve cybersecurity in 41 states and territories. More than a quarter of the money will go to buy new voting equipment. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is receiving $3.7 million to tighten cybersecurity, safeguard voter registration rolls and otherwise improve voting systems, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission announced Tuesday.

The commission released a report showing how various states plan to spend $380 million allocated by Congress to strengthen voting systems amid threats from Russian and others.

New Mexico is among five states that did not provide the federal government with a detailed narrative for its grant spending.

Part of the funds will go toward immediate improvements before the November general election, without specifying how much, Deputy Secretary of State John Blair said.

Most of the grant spending will focus on ensuring the security of elections, he said. That includes an ongoing program that assesses risks and vulnerabilities to cyberattacks — and includes a plan to ensure election officials are prepared to respond and communicate about disasters before they occur.

Election risk assessments at the county level also are being funded, and some grant money will pay for minority-language voter outreach, particularly to Native American voters.

The Election Assistance Commission provided a rough breakdown of New Mexico’s spending plan by category. The state would devote more than $2 million to tighten cybersecurity, $500,000 to voter registration efforts and $750,000 to shoring up voting equipment.

The federal government expects New Mexico to spend $185,000 of its own funds.

The federal grants can be spent over a five-year period.

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