Securing American Elections
Our nation's top cybersecurity and elections experts agree that election security can’t be left to chance. They have warned us for over a decade that our antiquated computerized elections systems are prone to error, and highly vulnerable to manipulation and hacking.
The National Election Defense Coalition is a network of organizations and activists from all ends of the political spectrum, working to safeguard the elections institutions that are the basis of our republic, through non-partisan action. NEDC has a proven track record in uniting progressive and libertarian activists and officeholders as well as national security-minded conservatives to advance the causes of election security, reliability, and transparency.
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 and mainstream political reform organizations. 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 promoting, funding and co-sponsoring a series of Congressional briefings, Town Hall Meetings, conferences, and media campaigns, while also testifying before Congress to advance principles of reform, and legislative remediation.
We’ve engaged Congressional staffers as well as 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 upgrading elections technology, specifically in cash- strapped States and counties with insecure voting systems and standards. (PA, FL, MI, GA, SC, VA, NC). And we have worked to educate the public and lawmakers on the political and technical issues and fixes through Town Hall meetings, press conferences, documentary film showings, articles, websites, and social media.
In late 2016 NEDC drafted a first-of-its-kind non-partisan statement of principles and policy options on election security, and then organized 103 of the nation’s leading expert scientists on cybersecurity and election administration experts from across government, the private sector, and academia, to sign a letter to Congress which outlines these same principles and policies.
In late 2016, NEDC built a strategic partnership with several leading conservative Republican public relations figures, political commentators, and legislative strategists—complimenting existing partnership with progressive, civil rights, and government reform organizations.
In 2016, NEDC sponsored a Congressional Briefing on protecting elections and voter's rights, attended by over 150 members of Congress, staff, and media. NEDC then helped develop new legislation, introduced and sponsored by Members of The House, which called for the elimination of Direct Recording Electronic (touch-screen) voting machines and secret proprietary elections software, and for requiring risk-limiting audits. NEDC worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to create a panel on voting rights, and election defense solutions at the 2016 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference.
In January 2017, NEDC convened a high-level meeting at the Fordham University Law School Center for National Security. The main objective of the meeting was to devise a non-partisan national strategy for passing election integrity legislation in Congress and statehouses across the country. The private by-invitation only conference included former Bush Administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Obama Administration Cybersecurity chief Bruce McConnell, and computer scientists such as J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan and Dan Wallach of Rice University. Also present were state and county elections officials, and current and former senior Congressional staffers.
In May of 2017 NEDC organized a Congressional briefing on elections security attended by over 100 congressional House and Senate staffers and media. Our speakers included Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, election security advocate Susan Greenhalgh of the Verified Voting Foundation, cybersecurity expert and Fox Contributor Lt Col Tony Shaffer, elections reform expert Lawrence Nordan from the NYU Brennan Center for Justice, and Professor Alex Halderman of Michigan University.
In June of 2017 NEDC adviser Alex Halderman entered the statement of principles letter into the official record during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017. The statement was simultaneously presented to the media in a press release, and has been circulated widely on Capitol Hill and in executive agencies.
- Over the course of the 2016 election cycle, and into early 2017, the NEDC coalition funded and led a major marketing campaign for the new feature-length non-partisan documentary firm I Voted?( Executive Producer Katie Couric). The film, which outlines the voting machines' vulnerability, has been screened in over twenty cities, including three showings in Washington DC and a screening for over 70 Congressional staffers.
- In November and December of 2016 NEDC organized a post-election Congressional briefing attended by over 50 Congressional staff, media, and 8 members of Congress . NEDC also co-sponsored and funded a December Conference at the National Press Club which included reports on the the election recounts in WI, PA and MI, and reported election irregularities.
- During the 2016 election season, and in the months following, NEDC and its consultants placed news articles, op-eds, and video features on voting issues in a wide range of publication, including:
Inside Cyber Security
International Business Times
Atlanta Journal Constitution
Christian Science Monitor
The TODAY Show
NPR’s Morning Edition
Principles for Reform: What’s needed in federal legislation
A. Provide time-limited grants to replace antiquated and insecure voting machines with paper ballots and optical scanners
B. Require that states conduct robust post-election audits prior to the certification of federal contests, and charge a federal agency with establishing guidelines for such audits
C. Issue a moratorium on the transmission of voted ballots over the Internet.
D. Create a grant program to fund the application of private-sector cybersecurity best practices to state and local election administration, including:
- Threat analyses for state and local voter registration databases and other essential election systems;
- Upgrades and replacement of critical IT infrastructure, including voter databases
- Contingency, response, and resiliency planning
- Ongoing cybersecurity programs, including for maintenance and updates
NEDC Trans-Partisan Track Record
· Worked with Rev. William Barber on explaining election security as part of a voting rights platform at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference
· Worked with Congressman John Conyers and civil rights leader Barbara Arnwine on integrating election security language into democracy agenda messaging
· Hosted Former Bush Administration Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former CIA Director Jim Woolsey for strategy convocations and Congressional education events on election security reform
· Educated members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus on election security and collaboratively developed policy options for conservative Capitol Hill offices
· Engaged with Republican and Democratic senators following NEDC adviser Alex Halderman’s US Senate testimony
· Built alliances with both Democratic and Republic Secretaries of States around the country in order to advocate for federal and state reform.
Key Objectives and Activities in 2017
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 is working to design compelling and comprehensive election security reform legislation and to cultivate support across the political spectrum for legislative action. NEDC is strengthening 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
NEDC will leverage federal legislative activities to create and disseminate model bills for state legislators 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
NEDC is identifying a set of initial target states—including North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida—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.