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Statement

National Security Leaders Urge Congress to Provide Election Officials with Additional Funds

National security leaders and experts call on Congress to provide funding to election officials for administering a safe and secure election in November, despite the coronavirus.

Published: July 20, 2020
National Security Leaders Urge Congress to Protect Election

Dear Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer,

American elections, the bedrock of our democracy, face two extraordinary challenges this year: Covid-19 and combatting foreign interference. While these twin challenges are first and foremost a test of our democracy, they are also a threat to our national security. We urge you to provide election officials with the resources they need to protect our elections this year.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, state and local governments face significant and unexpected costs as they prepare to provide safe in-person voting options, meet the increased demand for mail voting, and bolster online systems that have become essential resources for voters at home. Bolstering and securing this infrastructure will require more staff, supplies, and technology. And this increased need for resources is coming at a time when many government budgets are facing a revenue crisis.

We know that hostile foreign actors like China, Iran and Russia seek to cast doubt on the integrity of our electoral system. footnote1_wsejcht 1 U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election, Volume 1: Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure Russian Efforts Against Election Infrastructure, https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Report_Volume1.pdf.  These actors influence Americans by exploiting fear and confusion around the voting process. Failing to make sure that all citizens can vote safely and securely will only give them material to further erode faith in our democratic system.

Congress has provided some money for states to run elections during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has not been enough. footnote2_n2h6fyx 2 Chris R. Deluzio et al., Ensuring Safe Elections, Alliance for Securing Democracy, Pitt Cyber, R Street & Brennan Center for Justice, 2020, https://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-State-Cost-Analysis.pdf.  To cover some of the shortfall, state election officials have redirected federal funds that were intended for election security improvements. footnote3_fzin3ye 3 Matthew Vann, “Some cash-strapped states turn to election security funds to fight COVID-19,” ABC News, Apr. 6, 2020, https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cash-strapped-states-turn-election-security-funds-fight/story?id=69940136.  Local election officials from both parties have expressed the need for more resources to ensure that voters can participate safely in elections this year, and urged Congress to provide more funding in the next coronavirus stimulus package. footnote4_cypyhl9 4 “Election Officials Call for More Election Funding in Next Stimulus Bill,” last updated May 13, 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pRLWoFqj5NXz05PqJjbXSnn3rmPPWPvtHqdW1KZ3_ck/mobilebasic?urp=gmail_link..

Americans should feel confident that their election officials have the resources needed to provide healthy options for all voters and ensure integrity in electoral outcomes. We urge you to provide funding to make sure our elections are safe and secure.

Sincerely,

Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

Spencer Boyer, former National Intelligence Officer for Europe

Ambassador William Burns, former Deputy Secretary of State

Michael Carpenter, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security

James Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence

Rudy de Leon, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Raymond DuBois, former Acting Under Secretary of the Army

Ambassador Eric Edelman, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy

Aaron Friedberg, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University, former Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs, Office of the Vice President

Colleen Graffy, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs

Chuck Hagel, former Secretary of Defense and U.S. Senator

John J. Hamre, former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Michael Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency

Juliette Kayyem, former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security

John Kerry, former Secretary of State

David Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Douglas Lute, LTG, US Army, Retired; former US Ambassador to NATO

Bryan McGrath, Managing Director, The FerryBridge Group

Michael Morell, former Acting and Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security

Michael E. O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Sean O’Keefe, former Secretary of the Navy

Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, CIA Director, White House Chief of Staff and Congressman

Amy Pope, former Deputy Homeland Security Advisor to the President

Ambassador Susan E. Rice, former National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

Governor Tom Ridge, former Secretary of Homeland Security

Kori Schake, Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute, former Deputy Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department

Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Under Secretary of State

Suzanne Spaulding, former Under Secretary of Homeland Security

Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State

Matthew Waxman, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

Dov S. Zakheim, former Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)

Philip Zelikow, former Counselor of the Department of State

End Notes