2018 Year End Report
In 2018 the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC) expanded our work to build broad, bipartisan support for secure and trustworthy election systems and procedures at both the state and federal level, with a focus on promoting federal funding to states for election security.
Since its inception in 2013, NEDC had worked tirelessly to educate Congress, the media, and state election officials to promote the adoption of hand-marked paper ballots and robust post-election audits capable of detecting election errors and cyber breaches.
In 2016 our issues came center-stage as we learned that US election systems are under attack from foreign intelligence operatives. NEDC recognized an opportunity to bypass traditional partisan divides on the issue of elections by uniting both sides of the aisle to ensure our infrastructure is resilient from such cyberattacks. We prioritized developing a broad, bipartisan coalition of organizations, election experts, computer scientists and election officials to create the diverse movement necessary to achieve our election security goals.
Typically, progressive organizations and legislators have supported election reforms.
But without influential conservative voices, there would be no opportunity to pass legislation and secure funding in the current Congress, nor could reform succeed in the majority of states which are GOP-controlled.
Thanks in large part to our coalition’s work with both Houses, in 2018 Congress appropriated $380 million dollars in emergency funding to all fifty states for upgrading and securing election systems. Though this amount is short of the funding necessary to secure all US elections, it was a validation of our bipartisan approach and an important initial victory in the campaign to secure the infrastructure of our democracy.
· Organized two congressional briefings which featured leading experts from all sides of the political spectrum voicing support for election security reforms including Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Liz Howard of the Brennan Center, Adam Brandon of Freedomworks, Computer science Professor Alex Halderman, Grover Norquist and former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHrh73baXjw&feature=youtu.be
· Continued our work with Congressional staff in both the House and Senate to support the introduction of bipartisan legislation; the Secure Elections Act (S.2953) and the House equivalent the PAPER Act (HR.3751). Both aim to end paperless DRE voting machines and require (or recommend) that all states conduct post-election audits before certification of the vote count.
· Deployed conservative national security expert and retired CIA- NSA cyber operation operative Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer to meet with Republican leadership in Pennsylvania to promote a shift in the commonwealth to paper ballots and post-election audits. Col. Shaffer has agreed to continue working with NEDC and its partners in 12 conservative controlled states during the 2019-2020 election cycle.
· Partnered with FreedomWorks and Common Cause to oppose the purchase of insecure, unverifiable ballot and needlessly expensive marking devices in Georgia.
· Facilitated an oped in the Washington Post by former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Grover Norquist.
· Continued to lead weekly meetings of the coalition that NEDC organized in 2017 that includes our partners Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, Democracy Fund Voice, Verified Voting Foundation. In 2018 we expanded our coalition to include FreedomWorks, Protect Democracy, The London Center for Policy Research, Public Citizen, German Marshall Fund, Americans for Tax Reform, R Street, and the Project for Government Oversight.
· Published a critical report on Internet voting with our partners from the computer science community, the left and the right – Association for Computing Machinery, Common Cause, and R Street Institute.
· Organized over 30 computer security and election experts to write to the Department of Homeland Security and the US Election Assistance Commission to discourage the use of insecure wireless modems in voting equipment.
· Organized a demonstration hack of an emailed ballot at the DEF CON hackers’ conference, which, coupled with direct advocacy, successfully pressed the Washington Secretary of State to issue an emergency rule to curtail email voting for security reasons.
· Engaged Trey Grayson, former Kentucky Secretary of State (R), former president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), and member of the President Obama’s Presidential Commission on Election Administration to assist with outreach to Secretaries of State and state election officials at the biannual NASS conferences.
· Filed an Amicus Brief with our partners Protect Democracy and Common Cause to support litigation in Georgia seeking to decertify its paperless voting machines.
· Engaged the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law School to pursue legal action against voting system vendors for false marketing claims regarding the security of voting machines.
· Partnered with progressive organization Free Speech for People to file a public request to obtain documentation on voting machine irregularities in Texas.
· Launched a new website to function as a hub for bipartisan grassroots action in coming years: Bipartisan Alliance to Secure Elections (BASE).
· Continued our outreach to the press working closely with reporters on many, many stories in publications including The New York Times,(2), The New Yorker, (2), McClatchy, NPR, The Intercept and Politico.
There’s considerable work ahead—both at the federal and state levels. Estimates are that the $380 million already appropriated this year represents just a third of the resources needed by states to conduct post-election audits and replace aging insecure voting technology.
Crucially, states themselves need to do the right thing with federal funds. This meant that in 2018 NEDC also increasingly directed coalition efforts at state-level advocacy.
NEDC is promoting a clear roadmap for federal and state officials to secure elections in 2020 by focus on the following objectives.
· Ensure passage of S.2953, The Secure Elections Act, to provide time-sensitive matching funds to states to upgrade voting technologies and clear guidelines for paper ballots to be the official record of all votes cast.
· Promote post-elections auditing of elections results in 2020 before certification of the vote count.
· Work in the 13 states that still use paperless DREs to convince policymakers to pass election security guidelines for new technology, and to spend new federal elections funds prudently for purchasing secure and auditable systems.
· Work in states to ensure that they utilize existing state or federal funds to implement best practices, including risk-limiting post-election audits and comprehensive threat assessments, according to security principles included in the proposed SEA legislation.
· Conduct Congressional briefings in Washington D.C. to promote further funding and laws that provide secure technology upgrades and RLAs, targeting Congress and promoting oversight of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and its Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC).
· Mobilize bipartisan state coalitions, organize conferences and legislative briefings on cyber security and best auditing practices aimed at state legislators, elections directors, and SOSs.
· Continue to develop the Bipartisan Alliance For secure Elections (BASE) and the USBASE.NET website to serve as a coalition hub for grassroots outreach and state mobilization.
· Using the GA model, explore pursuing lawsuits in additional states using DREs; challenging paperless DREs as constitutionally depriving voters of secure votes (successfully applied in GA).
· Pursue legal remedies to force greater vendor transparency and candor about security vulnerabilities.
NEDC continues to grow our coalition for 2019, seeking partners and sponsors for our important, time-sensitive, and winnable work.
INDEX of NEDC-Coalition Activities to date
Senate Testimony, Congressional Briefings, NDAA funding, Op-eds and Earned Media, Letters to Congress, Security Expert letters to the EAC and state officials
Letter to Congress from 100 scientists and elections experts organized by NEDC, Brennan Center, Common Cause and VVF
FreedomWorks Declares October 2018 is Election Security Legislation Month, endorses SEA and PAPER Acts
Senate testimony by Coalition consultant and expert witness UM Prof Alex Halderman,
at US Senate Select Committee for Intelligence
Letter to State Elections Officials from 42 security experts and scientists generated by NEDC with FreedomWorks, Common Cause, Brennan Center and Verified Voting https://www.electiondefense.org/letter-to-elections-officials
OPED in Washington Post by Grover Norquist and Michael Chertoff (former sec of Homeland Security) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-need-to-hack-proof-our-elections-an-old-technology-can-help/2018/02/14/27a805bc-0c4b-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html?utm_term=.0f7e744fd432
Internet Voting: The Overlooked Threat to Election Security
Congressional Briefing August 23 2018- NEDC and allies
Letter to Congress from National Security Experts and former officials
Congressional Briefing May 15 2017 NEDC and allies in Voting Rights Alliance
Congressional briefing April 25th 2016 with US House members and
Senate bill 2953; The Secure Elections Act
House Bill: The Paper Act- Protecting the American Process for Election Results
Letter to EAC and DHS on internet connectivity of voting technology
Letter to Congress from County Elections Officials supporting funding in the National Defense Budget (NDAA)
Letter Opposing Insecure GA legislation