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Maine gets $1 million for election system improvements

Election 2021 Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
AP file
Election workers Sheila McDonough, left, and Kathleen Reid chat while waiting for voters at the American Legion Post 35 poling place, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in South Portland, Maine.

Maine is receiving $1 million in the latest federal budget bill to update election equipment.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows says it's long overdue.

"As we evaluate our election technology, not just in Maine, but across the country, what you see is a pattern of aging election equipment. And that's a problem when we're talking about election security," she says.

Bellows says the funding will make Maine voting safer and more secure in the face of increasing cyberthreats.

"We can improve our training and our processes to safeguard our elections now and into the future," she says.

Bellows says the money will help Maine replace its 15-year-old central voter registration system.

She says she would also like to see funding of initiatives to make it possible for voters to update their own election registration system online, and equip town officials with an app that will let them check the state's voter database at polling places, as well as at city and town halls. But Bellows says doing all that will require more federal funding.

Bellows hopes Congress continues to help states pay for upgraded voting equipment, including the machines that count ballots. But she says paper ballots are the "gold standard," in election security and the state is "fully committed" to continue using them.