In new congressional testimony submitted this week, two members of Issue One’s Faces of Democracy called on Congress to take steps to strengthen our elections, protect the officials running them, and invest in our critical election infrastructure ahead of 2024.
Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon (MO) and Ottawa County Clerk Justin Roebuck (MI) submitted their testimonies to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which held a hearing this week focused on state and local election administration.
There are “innumerable opportunities to make our elections more efficient, more secure, more responsive to voters,” Justin Roebuck wrote in his testimony, highlighting three key threats that have transformed the work of election administration in recent years and will have a significant impact on the future of elections if left unaddressed: “Heightened scrutiny leading to increased demands on our time, threats to our physical security, and the departure of experienced colleagues and staff, creating a deficiency of institutional knowledge.”
“These challenges all point to a need to reconsider how we look at federal funding for our elections,” Roebuck continued. “The autonomy of states and local governments to administer their own elections is a distinctive feature of the American electoral system. De-centralized elections celebrate the uniqueness of states and communities and contribute to the integrity of the process. Nonetheless, there is a vital role for the federal government to play in providing support and resources for election administration. For the future of our democratic process to thrive, election operations at the state and local level require thoughtful and consistent funding from the federal government.”
Roebuck concluded his written testimony with a stark warning that “the continued absence of [federal] funding in the long term will have significant negative effects upon the infrastructure of our elections, and place their security at risk.”
In her written testimony, Brianna Lennon also called attention to the spotlight many election officials were thrust into during the lead-up to and following the 2020 election. “We’re asked to be experts in everything from cybersecurity to communications, but our resources are limited, causing experienced administrators to leave the field at alarming rates,” Lennon wrote.
Lennon also criticized Missouri’s recent withdrawal from ERIC, a nonprofit membership organization created by Republican and Democratic state election officials that provides member states with vital information to accurately update voter rolls. “The state’s withdrawal from ERIC occurred without the input of local election authorities, even though voter rolls are maintained at the county-level,” Lennon stated.
“As November 2024 approaches, I fully expect national pressure to increase on local election officials, and counties with minimal staff and very little political experience will be ensnared in a partisan narrative about election integrity,” Lennon concluded. “I ask that this committee take to heart the concerns of our local election officials and be prepared to push back on our behalf on this narrative that elections in the United States are broken or untrustworthy. They are not. We work each and every day to ensure they are not.”