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More than 50 bipartisan election officials, national security experts, technologists, and former members of Congress call for safeguards to protect U.S. elections against threats posed by AI

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Cory Combs

Director of Media Relations

A bipartisan coalition of more than 50 election officials, national security experts, technologists, and former members of Congress are calling for the enactment of federal legislation to protect our democracy and elections against growing threats posed by generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

In an open letter addressed to Senate leadership, members of Issue One’s National Council on Election Integrity, Faces of Democracy, and the Council for Responsible Social Media warn that “the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence, particularly generative capabilities like deepfake creation, poses unprecedented threats to our information ecosystem, with grave implications for informed participation in democracy.”

Those signing onto the letter include Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, former Secretary of Defense and CIA Director Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, former Washington Secretary of State and Senior Election Security Advisor for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Kim Wyman, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), former Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, among others.

“Generative AI tools can be used to systematically create hyperrealistic content, giving foreign adversaries an array of comparatively low-cost tools that can be used to further sow divisions among the electorate and destabilize domestic politics,” the letter goes on to state. “By combining these tools with Americans’ personal data, bad actors can design microtargeted content to manipulate and misinform voters. The challenge also extends to election administration: AI can be used to generate malware to attack election infrastructure and to automate the harassment of election workers.”

The letter highlights bipartisan legislation, scheduled for a markup today by the Senate Rules Committee, that would build necessary safeguards against the negative effects of this rapidly developing technology, while still reaping its benefits:

  • The AI Transparency in Elections Act requires labeling the use of AI in political advertisements, ensuring voters are informed when content has been artificially generated or manipulated, thus preserving the integrity of the information they receive.
  • The Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act targets unauthorized deepfakes of political candidates, protecting elections by ensuring that AI-manipulated media cannot be used to deceive voters. This bill is particularly relevant considering the use of an AI generated deepfake of President Biden during the 2024 New Hampshire primary that sought to mislead voters about the time, place, and manner of the election.
  • The Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act directs the Election Assistance Commission to provide election officials with voluntary guidelines to manage the challenges posed by AI technologies. This bill bolsters the resilience of our electoral system by promoting the development of best practices and standards for identifying and mitigating threats from AI.

“More must be done to buttress our election infrastructure, particularly through Congressional appropriation of robust and consistent federal election security grants, but these bills are a necessary step,” the letter continues.

According to polling commissioned by Issue One, nearly 9 in 10 registered voters agree that federal action is needed to curb the use of fake images and videos generated by AI in elections and political campaigns.

“The stakes are high, and the need for action is urgent. We implore you to prioritize these bipartisan bills in the legislative agenda, ensuring that our democracy remains robust and resistant to the manipulative potential of advanced technologies,” the letter concludes.

Read the full letter.