New ASD and BPC report highlights vital election security measures that can be implemented before November

Contact: Rachael Dean Wilson or Kayla Goodson, Alliance for SecuringDemocracy, press@securingdemocracy.org; Ari Goldberg, Bipartisan Policy Center, agoldberg@bipartisanpolicy.org

Washington, D.C.– The Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today released 20 for 20: 20 Ways to Protect the 2020 Presidential Election. In this report, ASD’s Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine and BPC’s Elections Project Director Matthew Weil identify 20 ways states could further protect the 2020presidential election with additional funding.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, some states have begun using previously appropriated election security funds to cover unanticipated costs. While necessary, this redirection of funds creates a dilemma: states are using money originally intended to address key issues like election infrastructure and foreign interference to cover the new costs, leaving American democracy vulnerable to increasingly sophisticated foreign adversaries. The 20 for20 recommendations incorporate successful state-run programs, local officials’ input, and voter feedback to give federal lawmakers a better understanding of what could be done with additional funding and provide election officials with ideas for how to spend any election security funding they already have.

“As Congress considers additional action to secure the vote in response to the pandemic, they should not lose sight of the need to secure the election against foreign adversaries,” said ASD Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine. “The fact remains that intelligence officials have warned that authoritarian regimes like Russia, China, and Iran will try to interfere in the 2020 elections; the pandemic has not changed this assessment. From mitigating risks that result from increased vote by mail options to defending systems against ransomware attacks, 20 for 20 outlines important steps states can take to secure elections with additional funding. While Congress has provided some election security funding, more is needed to address these twin priorities of combatting foreign interference and making pandemic-related election adjustments. Ensuring a safe and secure election should be a national security priority that unites us all.”

“The pandemic has overwhelmed election administrators’ attention and led to massive changes in how our elections will look this November,” said BPC Director of the Elections Project Matthew Weil. “It does not mean the old concerns over election security fade away. Congress stepped to the plate in 2018 and 2019 to secure American elections. Those priorities were right then and need consistent focus going forward. 

20 for 20 shows all that state and local election officials can do to provide voting access during Covid-19 while simultaneously securing the process against nefarious actors. They just need the resources to do it.”

Some of the 20 recommendations include:

  • Mitigate the potential risks associated with administering more voting by mail due to the coronavirus
  • Help local election officials work with Facebook and Twitter to be identified as trusted sources
  • Use a social media monitoring service to help fight election disinformation and/or misinformation efforts
  • Further protect the state’s voter registration database from bad actors
  • Hire additional cybersecurity staff

The CARES Act recently allocated $400 million in federal funding to address state and local governments’ coronavirus-related election needs. A recent report, Ensuring Safe Elections: Federal Funding Needs for State and Local Governments During the Pandemic, released by experts at the Alliance forSecuring Democracy, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, the R Street Institute, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security put the total need of the five featured states at least $414 million.

The 20 for 20 report can be accessed here: 

Reporters interested in an interview or more information about 20 for 20: 20 Ways to Protect the 2020 Presidential Election should reach out to Kayla Goodson at kgoodson@securingdemocracy.org

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.