that can’t be audited or recounted. The legislature recently passed legislation to replace the current machines with voting machines that provide a ballot summary card that also cannot be properly audited. NEDC again served as a bridge working with Freedomworks and Lt. Col. Shaffer to vigorously oppose the legislation while coordinating our efforts with local groups on the Left including Fair Fight Action, Georgians for Verified Voting and the Coalition for Good Governance. Though we failed to amend the Legislation promotd by now Governopr Brian Kemp,  we will continue to fight for paper ballots and audits with our Left/Right allies in Georgia as the state enters the procurement process.  

The voting machines in Georgia are also being challenged in a lawsuit brought by members of Georgians for Verified Voting and Coalition for Good Governance. NEDC has also filed an Amicus brief in thois suit. We believe the lawsuit can also challenge the constitutionality of the BMDs and are supporting the plaintiffs in their action.

Ohio: Our goal in Ohio for 2020 is to have the entire state conduct a risk-limiting post-election audit for the Presidential election at a minimum. Ohio has paper ballots and allows risk-limiting audits (but only Cuyahoga County conducts them). We will press the Ohio state election director and county officials for this largely administrative policy change. The Cuyahoga County Clerk has been a strong advocate and has spoken at two of our briefings to promote risk-limiting post-election audits on Capitol Hill.  This work will require us to send technical experts to the state to advise county officials and administrators.  

Florida:  All paperless machines are scheduled to be replaced by 2020. However, Florida has a very weak audit law that is not capable of detecting or correcting a wrong election outcome and new legislation just introduced has auditing and security issues.. At the start of the 2019 session, we will work to change state law to allow the counties to start implementing risk-limiting audits on a pilot basis.  This work will require a coordinated lobbying and administrative push by deploying our advocates on both the Left and the Right and generating a ground swell of support from the grassroots.

Wisconsin: This past year, the League of Women Voters, an allied organization, successfully changed the law to require post-election audits prior to certification. The audits to be conducted are not risk-limiting audits, but the legislation is a step in the right direction.  The Wisconsin State Election Board is very supportive of risk-limiting audits. To be ready for 2020, we will work with the State Board to encouraging pilot enabling legislation in 2019.  

Michigan:  The 2016 U.S. Presidential election was decided by 10,000 votes, and there were many irregularities and machine failures in Wayne County.  The Brennan Center reached out to the Secretary of State in Michigan and worked behind the scenes to explain risk-limiting post-election audits and to enroll the Secretary’s office. As a result, the Michigan Bureau of Elections and three City Clerks agreed to partner with coalition members and pilot risk-limiting audits in their counties after the November 2018 election. We hope to use the risk-limiting audit pilot to build support for a permanent requirement for such audits in Michigan with the goal of a statewide audit of the presidential race.  Our partner Brennan Center is working with state officials on RLA pilots.

Texas:  Most counties in Texas still deploy paperless machines. NEDC has been working with Protect Democracy, Professor Halderman, FreedomWorks and the London Center to support legislation that would move Texas to paper ballots and post-election audits. Lt. Col. Shaffer and Prof. Halderman have both traveled to Austin to meet with officials at the Secretary of State’s office and the legislature to discuss the vulnerabilities of Texas’ voting system and the national security threat it faces. We will continue to work with our partners to push for election security reform in Texas.

New York

In New York we are fighting the New York City Board of Elections' executive directors' push to bypass State testing and certification in order to buy expensive, insecure touchscreen voting machines. We obtained the non-public letter which sought to circumvent the testing process and publicized it.  The publicity prompted the chair of the New York City Council Oversight Committee to call for an investigation into the voting system contracting process. We are also working with state and county election officials, exploring opportunities trial more efficient and effective Risk-Limiting post election audits.

  

Legal Strategy

NEDC has identified a number of projects that include legal action that can expose vendors’ and elections administrators’ misinformation that is frustrating progress for election security reforms.

We have partnered with Free Speech for People and Indiana attorney William Groth to file a lawsuit to compel the Indiana Secretary of State to comply with public records law and turn over documents related to her communication with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). As president of NASS, the Secretary made several inaccurate statements regarding voting system security which undermine the arguments for paper ballots and audits. Our suit seeks to expose who is behind the dangerous misinformation. 

We have also engaged the Georgetown Law School Institute for Public Representation to develop a strategy for charging voting system vendors with false marketing claims regarding the security of voting systems. Currently we are in negotiation with at least one Attorney General to pursue these charges.

Because we closely follow the activities of the EAC’s voting system testing and certification program, we believe there are voting systems that have fatal flaws which warrant decertification. We will work with legal partners to pursue decertification if appropriate.

 

Grass Roots & Social Media Outreach

The organizations in our coalition bring a strong digital reach to our campaign. Common Cause has a digital mailing list of 1.2 million activists. FreedomWorks has a 3 million strong membership mailing list  Separately, our individual organizations will engage our memberships with unique messages suited to them.  

Recently, FreedomWorks published a blog on election integrity and this video which promotes the Secure Elections Act, making the case to states-rights conservatives that the federal government does have a constitutional role to play in the nation’s common defense.    

With sufficient resources, it is our goal to use a service like Swayable, a data science and media analytics platform that measures how video content changes people’s minds about key issues.  With strategic demographic information and dial testing-like tools, we can test our social media videos to see how they move conservative and liberal audiences, which can help us in key state-level campaigns. 

Public Education

We will continue to provide basic educational materials, host forums, conduct briefings, testify as experts, and communicate with journalists in print, television, radio and social media outlets.  

Provide testimony to state-level legislative committees and congressional committees 
Both Congress and many state legislatures have ramped up their interest in election security and are holding committee hearings. In the last several months, staff from our coalition partners provided expert testimony in Georgia, Virginia, Florida, Rhode Island, New York and Colorado. We will continue to provide that expertise when solicited and through proactive outreach. 

Place stories, opinion pieces and circulate editorial board memos
Election security is a headline issue these days, given the documented Russian cyber intrusions. We will continue to place stories outlining solutions and safeguards that must be implemented, and we will enlist cybersecurity experts and national security experts to provide commentary in publications across the political spectrum.

We will look to place stories in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street JournalWashington Times, the National Review, LA Times, Chicago Tribune Reuters, AP, Bloomberg, Vox, NPR, on network television news programs at the major networks such as CNN, FOX, CBS and ABC, and other less traditional media outlets such as CNET, Gizmodo, TechCrunch, Buzzfeed, Vice, The Verge and Mic. 

We will place stories in statewide and local media outlets where we have targeted and tailored campaigns. We will recruit prominent state leaders to co-sign op-eds with national security experts and/or cybersecurity experts. We will circulate editorial board memos to national and state media, signed by the national security experts.

501c4 Work

State legislative advocacy for audits and paper ballots

A large portion of our campaign work involves educating the media, public officials and legislators to change federal or state law. States targeted for legislative reform include PA, GA, WI, FL, MI, NC, TN and TX.

To accomplish some of these objectives of direct legislative advocacy and lobbying, we formed a 501c4 organization, the National Election Defense Institute (NEDI). The NEDI has already secured a $125,000 grant for lobbying activities.

NEDI launched a new web site that represents the work of our bipartisan coalition under the working name Bipartisan Alliance for Secure Elections (BASE). Www.USBASE.net, is being developed as a hub for grassroots development and lists all coalition organizations. It will post information, action and events to engage voters in advocating for election reform at the county, state, and federal levels.

 

 

Ben Ptashnik

Executive Director,  

National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC)

electiondefense.org