In an open letter, 34 national security leaders requested Congress approve increased election security funding. The signatories include former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The letter is addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“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,” they write.
“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,” they continue. “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.”
Noting that “hostile foreign actors like China, Iran and Russia seek to cast doubt on the integrity of our electoral system,” the national security experts warn that 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,” they write.
The experts recommend that Congress provide more funding for election security in the next coronavirus stimulus package because the pandemic has forced state election officials to redirect federal funds that were intended for election security improvements. They note that election security officials from both sides of the political aisle “have expressed the need for more resources to ensure that voters can participate safely in elections this year” in addition to pushing for more funding in the next round of federal coronavirus relief.
“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,” they conclude. “We urge you to provide funding to make sure our elections are safe and secure.”