BUILDING BRIDGES TO SecurE American Elections
Since 2013, the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC) has worked to safeguard the institutions and infrastructure that are the basis of our democratic republic. NEDC has a proven track record in uniting progressive, conservative and libertarian leadership and officeholders to strategically advance the causes of election security, reliability, and transparency.
Partisan distrust has long stymied any advancement of election reform in the United States. NEDC is the only non-partisan organization that serves as a bridge between stakeholders. With the White House, US Senate and the majority of states controlled by the GOP, NEDC has been successful in promoting election security primarily because of our exclusive strategic partnership with leading conservative stakeholders.
Our coalition works to educate Congress and State officials regarding the overwhelming evidence that hacking threatens elections, and to build policy based on the consensus of nationally recognized experts. We bring together veteran congressional staffers, leading computer scientists, elections administrators, and seasoned political organizers to design and implement strategies for election protection reform.
This includes co-sponsoring Congressional briefings and testifying before Congress to advance principles of reform and legislative remediation, public media campaigns, Town Hall meetings, press conferences, documentary film showings, articles, websites, and social media.
We have been invited to brief, provide statements, and draft questions for Congress members in the following committees: Senate Rules, Judiciary, House Science and Technology, House Homeland Security, Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. We’ve engaged state and county election administrators as partners and experts. Consequently we have crafted policy options that address State-Federal tensions, and are based on bipartisan areas of agreement.
We promote federal funding for appropriately upgrading elections technology, specifically in cash- strapped states and counties with insecure voting systems and standards.
In 2013, we began working with local, grassroots election integrity organizations. By 2015, we were working in Congress with the Voting Rights alliance and with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Later we partnered with left-leaning NGOs such as the NYU Law Brennan Center for Justice, Public Citizen, Common Cause, POGO, the Verified Voting Foundation, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law and the NAACP.
By 2016-2017 we began to bring into our circle of advocates prominent conservative leaders that previously had not engaged on election security. This now includes Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the Libertarian organization FreedomWorks, and the R Street Institute. We partnered with the conservative London Center and its President Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a national security advisor to the Pentagon and a FOX News commentator. We also work closely with former Secretary of State of Kentucky, Trey Grayson, who served as President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and President of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State.
In 2017, after six months of organizing and carefully building consensus on election security priorities, we orchestrated a successful national campaign, organizing Congressional briefings and publishing a letter to Congress signed by over one hundred computer scientists and national security experts outlining the path to legislative reform. We also placed a witness, election cyber security expert Prof. Alex Halderman, at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Halderman also appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government.
Our efforts culminated in the Secure Elections Act (S.2953) introduced in December of 2017 by a bipartisan group of six Senators, and launch of a similar bipartisan measure in the US House, the PAPER Act (H.R. 3751).
The immediate aim of both bills is to secure federal support and training for states and counties to harden their electronic infrastructure, to replace antiquated paperless voting machines before the 2020 federal elections, and to ensure election administrators have the auditing tools and training to detect and thwart a cyber-attack.
In March of 2018, we led a coalition that was instrumental in passing congressional appropriations of $380 million in emergency funding to all 50 states for upgrading and securing election systems. Though this amount is far short of the funding necessary to secure all U.S. elections, it is a major first victory for our coalition, for bipartisanship, and for democracy. Our 2018 NEDC year end report outlines these efforts.
In 2019 NEDC further built the coalition to push for funding with a larger conservative movement helped get $600 million allocated by the House In September, NEDC’s work was instrumental in securing federal funds for election security in the 2020 budget. After the Republican controlled Senate FSGG Subcommittee appropriated zero dollars for election security, NEDC organized a press conference on the Hill with our top conservative allies to urge Senate Republicans to take up election security legislation. The press conference generated dozens of cable and newspaper articles about conservative support for election security, and the next day Mitch McConnell reversed his opposition to funding and personally cosponsored an amendment to the 2020 federal budget allocating $250 million dollars for election security.
The struggle now is to get the Senate to agree to a sum closer to the House allocation and guidelines and accountability for how the money is spent.
Throughout our campaigns, the NEDC and our coalition partners have generated unprecedented media coverage on elections security published in The New York Times, NBC, MSNBC, ABC, Fox News, NPR, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Hill, Politico, the New York Times, Boston Globe, McClatchy, and many other national and regional media.
Key Objectives and Activities in 2019
Developing and advancing bipartisan federal election integrity legislation through a team of seasoned Republican and Democratic legislative and media consultants as well as high-level policy advisers and outside allies.
NEDC continues to strengthen partnerships with key Congressional offices, publishing op-eds in relevant publications to establish credibility with diverse stakeholders, and leveraging the release of the expert sign-on letter and activist campaigns toward legislative action.
Supporting the election integrity movement in state legislatures by creating and disseminating model bills across the country. NEDC will also connect state legislators with experts for testimony and develop advocacy tools for enabling the passage of reform measures.
Building the national grassroots movement for election security reform by identifying a set of initial target states in which to implement a strategy of training citizen leaders, disseminating election administration best practices, sharing communications tools, and promoting policy reform templates. NEDC will host one or more in-person two-to-three day conferences for sharing ideas and ensuring that advocates are empowered with the tools and connections to succeed in driving reform.
Execute strategic legal actions to expose misinformation from the voting systems vendors that is undermining and fostering resistance to election security reforms.