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Dozens of bipartisan election officials, former members of Congress, national security leaders, and government officials call on Congress to invest in our critical election infrastructure

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Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

Ahead of a key appropriations markup in the House this week, nearly fifty bipartisan election officials, former members of Congress, Cabinet secretaries, and national security leaders are calling on Congress to make a critical and significant investment in our elections and provide adequate, regular, and stable funding for local and state election officials.

In two new letters shared with congressional leaders, members of Issue One’s bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity (NCEI) and Faces of Democracy, a prominent group of current and former election officials and poll workers from across the country, urged lawmakers to appropriate at least $400 million in new funding to bolster our nation’s critical election infrastructure and ensure election officials have the resources they need to keep our elections free and fair. Yet tomorrow, the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will markup their appropriations bill which proposes eliminating all federal funding for elections during this critical election year — a move that will jeopardize our national security and deny election officials the resources they need to keep our elections free and fair.

“Congress’ failure to adequately provide federal resources and support to state and local election officials is particularly dangerous considering the growing threats facing our democracy, most notably foreign malign influence and cyber attacks that transcend national and state borders,” members of the NCEI write. “Our local election officials are now on the frontlines in a fight against Russian cyber-warfare and Chinese and Iranian covert influence campaigns. Congress cannot abandon election officials to combat these threats alone.”

Those signing onto the funding requests include: Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes; Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows; Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; Nevada Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar; former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson; former Washington Secretary of State and Senior Election Security Advisor for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Kim Wyman; former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant; Cobb County, Georgia Director of Elections Tate Fall; Defiance County, Ohio Director of the Board of Elections Tonya Wichman; Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir; former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta; former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Bill Owens; former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD); former Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Tim Wirth (D-CO); former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO); former Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Steve Gunderson (R-WI), Jane Harman (D-CA), Susan Molinari (R-NY), Amb. Connie Morella (R-MD), Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN), and former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN).

Investing in our critical election infrastructure “is essential to protecting our nation’s elections from foreign interference, cyber, and physical threats against election offices and officials,” members of the NCEI write. “Congress has previously appropriated election security funds at robust levels, including $380 million in 2018 and $400 million in 2020. Yet, the investment since 2020 has been insufficient: $0 in 2021; $75 million in 2022 and 2023; and just $55 million in 2024. These appropriations are far less than what state and local election officials have repeatedly said they need. By not providing robust and consistent election funding, Congress has failed in its constitutional duty to secure federal elections.”

In their request to Congress, election officials state: “Our roles and what is expected of us to administer safe and secure elections have increased exponentially, but the resources have not kept pace. Election officials now must counter mis- and disinformation about election processes on a bewildering array of news (including AI-generated sites) and social media platforms. We must adapt to changing state laws, implement federal mandates, and react to disruptive weather conditions. We must prepare for cyber attacks using outdated hardware and software and harden our buildings and, sometimes, our homes against threats of violence. We respond to endless streams of information requests, and increasingly to subpoenas and escalating litigation. We must also carry out our core responsibilities of registering voters, hiring poll workers, setting up and running polling places, processing and counting ballots, and certifying and auditing results.”

The letters follow a Senate Rules Committee hearing earlier this year in which state and local election officials from both parties testified about a wide range of challenges facing the election administration community, from generative AI and misinformation on social media to threats against officials and the need for increased funding. Watch highlights here.

Recent polling commissioned by Issue One found widespread and bipartisan support for federal election funding, with 7 in 10 Americans agreeing that the federal government should provide election officials with regular and consistent funding to help administer elections.

Read the NCEI’s funding request to Congress, and the election officials’ letter.

Learn more about Issue One’s efforts to keep U.S. elections free, fair, and secure.