the mountains that there is no safety foreign um i always forget how far away now you're going to check something oh i it hello everyone we're gonna get started with the first panel in five minutes so just if everyone can take a seat and we'll get started in about five minutes thank you my body oh what's up oh yes like this it i'm sorry is yes this is i think we're going to get started now so i want to welcome everyone back from our quick 15-minute break and start the first panel which will be confidence in elections on this panel will be mitchell brown professor at auburn auburn university andrew sinclair assistant professor of government in claremont mckinney college and charles stewart founding director at the mit election data and science lab one of our many responsibilities of election officials has been educating the public about the voting process and safeguards in place that ensure the results are accurate now more than ever these processes of faith in the dedicated public systems who run elections have come into question elections are inherently transparent and bipartisan as senator blunt mentioned earlier from the management of election locations to the storage of ballots and equipment through the certification process communicating with the public about the nuances of how elections are run is more important than ever but election officials are already stretched then with the vast responsibilities of actually doing the work of managing elections it is my hope that this panel will not only discuss why confidence has decreased but also recommending and recommendations on how election officials and others can turn this tide joining this panel will have some note in academics as i discussed earlier who've done research on elections and public sentiment of elections to begin i would like to ask each panelist to take a brief time to give opening remarks on this topic and then we'll dive into questions with that i would like to start with professor brown thank you very much and i want to um thank the eac for hosting this important event and for inviting me to be a part of the panel and for pepperdine university for hosting this it's the most beautiful campus i think i've ever seen besides auburn besides auburn yes you're right you're right auburn university has one of two graduate programs in election administration in the country and our faculty also serve as the curricular faculty for the professionalization and certification of election officials program for the past 30 years that's run by the national association of election officials or the election center of which one of our afternoon panelists was the long-time executive director in addition to the training and educational programming we do we also work with election officials to produce and disseminate research and information to support their work as i'm sure everybody here knows the use of disinformation is not new it has been around for about a century but what is new is its use in a social media environment that's characterized by incivility and the use of algorithms designed to engage people in content that they react strongly to which is magnified disinformation's impact as a weapon in a new way simultaneously what we know is that the spread of misinformation about elections has been tremendous and no less insidious and so election processes and by extension election officials have been a target of this and we've seen it take its toll on the profession at the instigation of the election officials we work with for the past two years the faculty at auburn have been collecting messages that election officials have produced from around the country to try and combat misinformation and disinformation this summer we ran a series of focus groups with regular people from around the country to test some of those messages that election officials produce and we're now in the process of running national panels uh on some of those messages that worked best in the focus groups our findings to date suggest that some of the best practice advice about messaging to combat mess and disinformation that's been used actually doesn't work as well as intended in this current environment um but but some of that does work very well the best example and most positive results i can give are from messages that remind the public that election officials are just like them that they're relatable that their neighbors that they're their friends the issue one campaign that came out this summer featuring election officials is a great example of the type of approach that we had positive findings from i will say as an aside with commissioner hicks's permission we used his picture on some of the messages that we tested and and while they like the messages nobody has any idea who tom hicks is outside the people in this room just my mom basically hi mom we also know from working with election offices around the country that some of the offices have capacity to produce high quality and well-targeted messages to combat misinformation but most offices around the country do not as such this is combating a misinformation and disinformation environment is not something that we can expect election officials to do on their own or in isolation as we have done this work and watched the environment emerge i would say that i think we're in a a period of democratic existential crisis a lot of the advice that we are getting is that we need a whole of government approach to combat this i think our work suggests that what we really need is a whole of society approach to combat this where government works with other kinds of groups to address these problems from our work i would say that chief among them are the political parties political parties are not a part of government they are private organizations who whose mission is really to control government and policy by having its members elected to office and um really think that we have to get the parties both of them to commit to supporting the system and we have in place that has appropriate checks and balances and effective checks and balances to ensure integrity rather than capitalizing on misinformation in order to fund raise and i would add that this is not a republican or a democratic problem we know from polling that voters of both parties distrust elections and government when their candidates lose and we know from 20 years ago when the events that led up to hava's passage happened that the democrats had similar responses though not to the same extent that we're seeing now we also see watchdog groups as a part of the equation and they have to be a part of the solution they're an important part of legitimate democratic functioning as a check on corruption but the upside down environment we're working in makes a lot of the work they're doing run counter to what we need there are a lot of other groups that must be involved in this business among them the media education churches civics groups and all of this has to start with the commitment of the leaders across the country of all these groups to work together with government and i'll close by saying that this is a marathon not a sprint there's no quick fix but we have to work across party lines to help our nation prosper and to get over this moment thank you professor brown and next up we'll have professor sinclair well thank you and i'd like to also start by thanking the eac for organizing this event having me working on this important topic and also to thank the people who work in election administration it's very easy to sit at my desk and think about what you ought to do better but it is very hard to do it and it's a challenging environment to be working in it's important work for of course sustaining democracy it's largely thankless and it is i think more difficult perhaps than it has been due to the informational environment that we're in it makes it a less pleasant and much more stressful job i have to imagine so thank you for your work in general i think anyone who studies political behavior would tell you that there's broad consensus that many people look at the world through sort of partisan tinted glasses and that's just the nature of human beings but not everyone is well represented by the worst email in your email inbox the nice thing about democracy is you don't have to get everybody on board all the time you just have to get enough people on board enough of the time so you know how can we get there and particularly is there something that can be done about the conditions in which misinformation uh might flourish so i'd like to make three points about that so broadly of events that happen somewhat upstream of uh when election administration actually takes place so first i'd like to endorse what you just heard about a whole of society approach the problem and my particular research interests are largely in political reform and so i would add something else to that that we need to all reform community approach as well there are lots of advocates working in areas that set the conditions in which election administration takes place one of my particular interests is in different types of primary elections and it's interesting to think about the way in which different choices that you make about how you structure electoral competition can then influence you know what you have to administer so for example in california we use a non-partisan top two election procedure which is very very simple in the first round in the primary you vote for who you want anybody can vote for anybody that they want for an office and then the general election you do it again you vote for who you want between the two choices that are available and the person with the most votes wins as you may have seen in the news we just finished counting um in an alaska special election uh which operates on a different kind of election rule uh alaska has now adopted essentially like a top four followed by rank choice voting rule which is just a little bit more complicated right and their advantage and disadvantage of each of these different kinds of systems and the other ways we conduct elections across the united states but those set the the conditions under which the public is going to interpret election information right in some systems it's a lot easier to understand what the outcome is uh than others secondly in on the theme of you know what do we ask of election officials um there are other considerations that are dictated by the broader political circumstances that influence things like how quickly you can count the ballots and that the long delay uh in counting ballots can provide a window for people to sort of make mischief and when there is in fact absolutely nothing wrong at all and i think i'm not alone on this panel and being concerned for example that if um control of the u.s house of representatives comes down to a handful of u.s house seats here in california california takes a very long time to count ballots and so it could be that for an extended period of time um control of the majority in the us house of representatives could be uncertain and that's the sort of environment in which people can then um you know sort of raise concerns and and uh you might think is as sort of mischief-making um and that's a choice in part based on how we conduct elections in california um we're now using a large reliance on uh mail ballots and their advantages to doing to doing things that way but it's built into those decisions uh third in terms of describing the general political environment one of my interests recently has been to investigate this theme of rising populism in the united states and amongst other scholars working in this area there seems to be a sense that there are different strains of populism and some of these have a kind of anti-democratic character to it but not all do right some have kind of a mr smith goes to washington feel to it and that that is a sort of sentiment that is potentially useful uh for people interested in election administration where you can say look you're you just want things to work well and we're going to give you a pitch about how things are going to work well and in this environment it might actually really be possible to ask for what you think would make for better election procedures as an expert make that pitch to the public and see if you can actually convert that into support for actually better procedures thank you thank you professor and finally before we go to questions i'd like to ask dr charles stewart from mit to make a few more remarks thanks commissioner hicks um as doug lewis would say um inside joke um i also want to start by um by thanking the eac and pepperdine for hosting this this event um it's much more beautiful here than mit i will say that although as a stanford grad we can have a we can have a conversation later on um it's it's great being here um as a point of personal privilege but it also gets to the point of this of this panel commissioner hicks was a shilling for a career in election administration earlier on among the students it's oftentimes said in election no one gets into election administration no one in election administration started an election administration it's oftentimes said um people get sucked into it or and then find they really like it um and that's oftentimes true in the people running elections it's also the case for academics like myself who get into studying elections 22 years ago i was a professor at mit who was known for studying political history um quiet times in american politics say before the civil war when um congress was at each other's throats and those sorts of things and the election happened in 20 in 2000 rather um did i say 2020 i meant 2 000.
um 2 000 um and then things happened and um some of us got pulled in together at mit and caltech to begin studying the technology of elections to try to make sure that a failure of technology that was at the center of the 2000 election wouldn't happen again so since the 2000 election i've been studying technology but i've also been studying the attitudes of voters and what brings them to trust the outcomes what gives confidence in the outcome of elections so my perspective is first of all the historical one of watching the public um change in how they view elections over the last 20 years but also the kind of the political historian in me who knows that in the 1950s there were similar issues of trust in government all the way up and down in the pre-civil war period in the 1880s and 1890s and certainly in other times in american history and so we can use the modern tools of public opinion research and the analytical tools of his um political history to come to some understanding of these questions so i have a few points that i want to make they're they're consistent with what my colleagues had to say but here's my particular spin on them the first thing is that um we oftentimes make the mistake of conflating the public when we're thinking about trust in elections okay so um i've read a lot about this topic over the last few years i've gone to a lot of conferences about this topic over the last few years and the question is always how do we get the public to have confidence in elections and i think the first thing we need to recognize is the public is a they not a net and the public is divided into certain segments where we need to be thinking about studying what's moving public opinion there or opinion there if we want to do anything to make things better okay so most of the research that we've been doing over the last 20 22 years has been about the mass public it's been about voters spent about 180 million people or so who vote what drives their confidence in elections and there we have we have some pretty robust findings um as has already been mentioned we have two big findings and i often times tell election officials if you want your people to be competent make sure of two things make sure they have a good experience on election day and make sure that their candidate wins um hopefully you can only have control over one of those things right um but that's what we find in the mass public now what's appears to be different right now is that not only do we see divisions oftentimes partisan divisions that are related to kind of the winner and loser effect but we're also seeing emotion being interjected into those opinions so it's no longer say even four six eight years ago you would see democrats and republicans flipping and how confident they were given the outcomes of elections and then the unconfident ones would say well you know chicago they you know they kind of you know tell stories about some place someplace else um as driving um and they and they're just kind of grumpy i just call them grumpy um the distrustful now are not grumpy they're angry they're disgusted they are engaged they have opinions that tend to excite action of a different sort and tend to incite action of a violent sort and so um you know the nature of the public opinion has changed um when you ask people these questions and that a lot of the mass public is still just either grumpy or kind of generally happy about things but there is a notable group of the public that is emotional now about the results and it's that segment of the public i think that we are most worried about i would say you know there's always going to be the grumpy mass on the losing side but now we need to worry about a smaller group of people who are motivated by um other concerns on maslow's hierarchy actually i was thinking about those terms who are motivated by issues of belonging esteem love those things at the top that get at the core of who who people are as human beings and that's a different thing than convincing people that yeah the election was done right okay so we need to understand the different segments of the public to understand first of all the dynamics but then secondly to understand what the prescriptions might be to make things better so that's kind of thing number one on thing number one um the second thing is that among the so one of the things i've been studying over the last couple of years in parallel with some colleagues who are studying um conspiracies in general is that i think we need to remember oftentimes even before this concern about distrust i i've been encouraging people to think about election administration as part of public administration not a special thing it is a public administration and i think we need to think about the strongest most emotionally laden aspects of this trust being related to not just distrust about elections but distrust about a lot of things right so the zealots the people who are making physical threats against the public the people who are being um obstetrious at i think that's the word in polling places oftentimes they're the same people doing the same thing in the public health office in the county maybe in the police station at the school board meeting and in other places so this is not just an elections thing it's a broader thing and by addressing this just as an elections thing we may be either overestimating our ability to address this problem or just missing the mark altogether okay so so some of the concerns about mistrust are not about elections and so maybe we not only need a society an all-society approach but we may need an all-policy approach an all-government approach um to these sorts of questions the final thing i'll mention this is not about public opinion and most of the discussion so far has been about public opinion but it's but i think well what do we do and usually in panels like this um we talk about um you know the strategies that election officials and others can engage in in order to communicate better with with the public and those are enormously important things absolutely must be done and we can talk about those sorts of things but there's another set of things that i call building trustworthiness in elections and by trustworthiness i mean being able to convince somebody who can be convinced that the election that was run was fair and the outcome was as determined i think what we saw in the 2020 election these 20s right in the 2020 election was the triumph of a trustworthy election system time and time and time again when people would make claims about the election that they shouldn't be trusted there was a judge there was a secretary of state there was somebody who was bound by the law by practices by norms of democratic behavior who said ah show me the evidence because there's all this evidence over here that the outcome should be trusted and so yes we need to think about communicating with the public the different parts of the public but in this process we also need to be thinking about the different ways in which we can build up a robust system such that when we know we can't convince some set of people that we can at least convince the people who will say you know the judge or whoever it is that yes this is the right outcome because i do think that 2020 was an example of what happens when it works well we have other things that we need to do around auditing around observers in the polling places and those sorts of things that i think that could build even great trustworthiness in elections but that trustworthiness is important because we're not going to be able to convince everybody and we need to think about what to do when that happens or doesn't happen so thanks thank you um just i would thank you all for your comments i think the way that i want to start off with my first question is to start broadly is miss and disinformation the biggest threat to public confidence in elections why and how is that measured against other threats like aging election infrastructure or the shortage of election personnel whoever wants to take it i think mitchell wants to start sure yeah i i think missing disinformation might be the biggest threat to public confidence in elections but but i think we have other threats that are probably in the long run more important and that we need to spend some time on and so having to address the missing disinformation problem gets us in the way of supporting the election administration system as a whole issues like infrastructure aging and personnel problems are very real some of the personnel problems have been exacerbated by missing disinformation but we we consistently under fund election administration it it undergirds all of american democracy in some of our research on funding of election administration democracy in some of our research on funding of election administration because election administration happens at the local level we looked at county budgets and looked at election administration office budgets in all the counties in 10 states and on average we spend half of a percent of a county budget on running elections and elections don't just happen once every other year they're happening all the time and election work is happening all the time and we're underfunding it to begin with and we have stretched limited resources now by having election officials having to become experts in messaging and communication with public an area that they're really not experts in and some offices are big enough to have pios but most aren't and the under resourcing of election administration maybe i'd pick is the biggest threat of what's happening in the current environment okay i would i would just second that that to a point that was made before about having trustworthy elections the biggest threat is messing it up right because uh it's hard to convince people after a real actual triumph of election administration to trust their elections and convincing them to trust the elections after you've messed it up it's going to be very hard and so putting resources into making sure that it goes right is probably the most important thing to do and in the long run repeated success in that way should hopefully build um increased confidence in elections um because i think there's there's a bit of a risk in thinking about that public trust in elections um that we sort of imagine a past like the good old days and the good old days may not have been that good in terms of trusted actual trust in elections right from a historical perspective and there's some there's obviously new things going on in american society uh today but misinformation and disinformation is not actually a new a new phenomenon and so i would i would say it's important to dedicate the resources to get the outcome right what they sent me what they said i mean the material i mean um you know the third thing i i say to election officials in addition to the two that i mentioned is sometimes that is an implication of that is that for election officials there might not be a whole lot that you can do to make people trust the election but there are things that you can do to make distrust you can have long lines you can have the ballots not show up you can have you can have the wrong poll books distributed there are things that can be done and the you know the worse the administration um you know the more you know the more you're struggling with resources the more likely it is that those sorts of things would happen one of the i think the unfortunate there's a lot unfortunate about the current environment which election administration is running right now um and i think that one of the most one consequence of being you know down at the low part of the of the hierarchy and worried about the physical security and safety of poll workers is that it is difficult to have conversations about how election officials election systems can actually work to improve you know the blocking and the tackling of running elections and um there's a lot of work to be done um and i've talked to democratic and republican um election administrators around the country who would love to have that conversation but their time is is filled up right now with just keeping people on board and dealing with this um information environment that they live in let me add something please do yeah i think the the um measure of a successful election isn't that nothing goes wrong because things go wrong in elections all the time and these are things that are outside the control of election officials the the hallmark of a successful election is that the election officials are able to recognize immediately when something's going on and pivot and correct it and and then be fully transparent and communicate that in a way that in to ensure that that the system has integrity and and so i don't think we want to hold up a standard that there's a perfect election where nothing goes wrong because elections are characterized by things that happen all the time because you're working in a completely imperfect environment you can control how many ballots you print and that the ballots are correct and you know where your precincts are if you've got precinct-based voting but you can't control how people behave when they get there and um and you can't necessarily control the lights or whether there's a car accident right in front of a polling place or things like that and so it's that reaction to when things go wrong that i think is a measure of a really strong election that kind of transitions into the next question i have in terms of uh is the elections community better positioned today to combat missing disinformation as they were maybe 20 or 30 years ago since i'm the old the old part here i'll um speak about 20 years absolutely right i mean that's in fact one of the things i think that's due to hava is that it accelerated the professionalization of election administration um it infused the system with billions of dollars that's been talked about before it raised the salience of election administration and you know the people i deal with now who are running elections at all levels of government are of a kind of different sort um than 20 years ago although um connie mccormick was you know was was on the cutting edge of of of this professional movement but now we get professionalism at lower levels of government than we than we used to so that's good um i think there is one element that's already been touched on that hasn't improved and that is still the reliance on outsiders and the smallness of the jurisdictions dealing with these issues you know a century ago there were 10 times more school districts in the united states than there are now 90 of the school districts that were around a century ago are gone now why are there fewer school districts because public education got more complex and that little neighborhood or town-based schools couldn't keep up and so we saw the consolidation of school districts around the country i would maintain a similar thing has happened in elections that things have gotten more complex more dangerous and we still have as many people running elections now as a century ago and that's a real challenge i think and um election officials are doing the best they can especially in this in really small jurisdictions but i do wonder about the ability of the system really to to meet the demands of the time um when we have so many small jurisdictions um and it's kind of the weakest link the final thing i would say i i i was i noted several years ago for instance and when there was an intrusion incident into a big network of voter registration bigger voter registration network and it included all sorts of phishing attempts sending people email including to the election um i believe it was an american samoa okay it just takes one jurisdiction it can be a small jurisdiction to reveal vulnerabilities in the system and so i think we need to think about small jurisdictions and whether this is no no shade on small jurisdictions just to note that the rest of government has been consolidated and i think that continues to be a challenge and something i worry about great if going down the line i i would say to build on that the other thing to think about is not so much in relationship to the public directly but in the technology that's available to election administrators to demonstrate and check that things have gone well and to respond to uh situations that come up and and everything um that in many ways sort of the good days are now right i can remember one of my first sort of elections related projects as a undergrad you know you couldn't have a readable pdf so if you wanted to analyze the election data you had to go to the library and get the book of election results and type it by hand into a spreadsheet right and it's just so much easier now to share data with lots of partners to demonstrate that yeah this this yeah look here's the file here's how it works you can run it yourself you can do it on your computer you can do all these kinds of things and so the technology has created some new threats but also some really new great opportunities for demonstrating the competence of election administrators thank you all before we get to the next question i wanted to comment take a moderate a privilege to address two things one to the students in the room uh before help america vodac came around most people had to actually go to a library to get research done you couldn't just hop onto your computer and have things uh scanned to you or emailed to you and that involved around the dewey decimal decimals and all this other stuff that i'm aging myself so that's one thing and the other thing was um dr stewart had mentioned someone in the room for those who are watching this on video or live streaming now connie mccormick who started off in dallas went up to san diego and finished up in la which is the largest jurisdiction in the country and we'll hear from her um successor a little bit later dean logan but um to for for those who are not here so she ran uh three of the largest jurisdictions for voting in in the country and also uh was instrumental in the passage of haba for those who are in the room and who may not know who connie mccormick is but also to praise those folks and give them their flowers as well so just want to say thank you connie um we were warriors together i was just 10.
so with that um we will go back to um to some of the questions that i had um and in looking at where we are today in terms of uh social media and and other aspects are social media companies doing all they can to combat miss and disinformation we're going to start in the middle this time since or start with i'll start that's fine yeah i think the answer has got to be no uh one of the one of the big parts of the problem that we're facing right now is about the algorithms that are used by them and i don't know that it's useful to debate the merits of exploiting human psychological traits for profit um it's a time-honored practice right but but but in this case the impact that social media companies algorithms um have is really literally destabilizing our country and it's not okay we and and we have precedent for getting involved i um i imagine i'm one of the biggest defenders of first amendment rights ever but we we don't allow things like subliminal messaging because it hurts people and it's manipulative and i think we have to have hard conversations about whether we regulate the algorithms i mean i i agree i agree entirely i mean i do think i mean there's been a lot in the press recently suggesting that the social media platforms are kind of backing off a little bit in the selection and i'm not quite convinced of that i think the social media platforms are are engaged in a similar way as they were two years ago but i also agree with what mitchell said is that they're not doing enough and um the one thing caution i would add though is that we need to remember that social media is one of many forms of media that people consume and it's easy to make social media scapegoat so as we're thinking about the the communications environment in which voters live you know remember that you know they're they're they're paying attention to local news on the television where there are our newspapers still and there are too few of them they're reading those they're reading local news you know they're doing a lot of different things and so i think that one of the challenges now may not so be so much the algorithms although they are problematic but the fracturing of the media environment in which case it's not really clear what you do in order to fight you know bad information out there because there's just so many places that a voter can go to get information you don't know quite what to do to make it to make it right if i could also then maybe add something building off what dean peterson said in his opening remarks as well that we shouldn't forget citizens and their role in this process and to take them seriously and so there's always this question about well is this organization or that organization doing enough and then begs the question of well you know who makes them right and these sorts of media environments whether it's social media or other kinds of news they exist because they're putting eyeballs on that you know eyeballs for advertisers or people are choosing to use it and people don't like what a particular social media company is doing you can also stop using it and i think there's a there's a role for discussion about what citizens can do to actually shape this environment rather than just be recipients of it um in an important way that there's a role for everybody here though can i want to add something to that um one of the things that we found when we were doing the recruiting for our focus groups is that we were recruiting through the social media platform platforms that election officials used to message to the people in their communities and frankly we were hoping to get some of the angriest people and um we didn't and we spent some time thinking about why not and you know i think one of the things that's happened but by shutting down certain voices and shutting down certain conversations on some of the social media platforms we've pushed people to other platforms that that's um essentially doubled down on divisions in the conversations that are happening and um and their platforms that election officials are not using at all and and i think that's also a problem too and a real unintended consequence of the way we tried to tap down on some of the divisive language and and a problem um well i would say thank you for that before we go to the next question again i would say for folks to get information to definitely go to the location their local election website uh for that information or go to other trusted sources like the election assistance commission or nas or the national association of secretaries of uh state election directors because those are three places that you can get trusted information to allow for yourself not to be informed by miss or disinformation um building upon that are there other two effective tools used to detect instances of mess and disinformation and are they accessible for election officials um who are often missed or under resourced i i would say that i i don't think it should be the job of election officials to detect instances and sources of miss and disinformation it's probably a job for law enforcement it's probably a job for other parts of the federal government the job of election officials should be to be professional to be ethical to be accurate to communicate that and so i'm going to push back on your question you're entitled you're wrong but you're entitled yeah i would agree yeah i think that that's a it's a it's a job that we can do in a way right as as scholars is to identify and you know what's going on and and try and explain it as a as also a trusted source of information um you can collect giant amounts of election data right and and make it available to people um and explain what's what's going on and and of course there's a role for elected election officials to be transparent about what they're doing and to describe it to the public but i think there's a there's a risk of going too far down that that uh hole of you know trying to to counteract the stuff instead of doing the main mission of executing the election i think all that's right although having that having been said i mean there are the resources and i imagine some of the other panels today may they may talk about those resources both in the government like cisa has certain tools for reporting and following up on on on certain bad actors there in the university space stanford and university of washington and other other groups have been monitoring um social media um internal to the united states there are these tools for local officials to report things that they're seeing for for those observatories if you will to to catch things themselves so there are tools there and i'm sure that commissioner hicks will will note that one can go to the eac website and find those tools and find those resources to um to get to get engaged with them as our role has grown so has our scope and we do have a pretty good website that's uh that allows for a lot of information to be put out there eic.gov so with that i wanted to build upon that last question in terms of effective tools and was hoping that one of you would erase the fact that those who are doubting the process and giving miss and disinformation could also become part of the solution in terms of serving as poll workers or election officials do any of you want to comment on that sure 100 we've seen in the past that when people who have questions and doubts get involved their questions and doubts go away and they become real champions of the process that we have i i would speak to my earlier comments i think the people who in a whole society approach for addressing the problems of miss and disinformation that it is the leaders of those groups that we have to connect with at first in order to have them connect with the people who listen to them and who trust them as their trusted sources in order to deal with this well and just for the uh particularly for the students who are here today it's a great way to learn about democracy to go participate as a you know a pool worker to get involved in the process in some way i did it in grad school and it was a really great experience and it helps i think for the you know general public to get involved to do that sort of thing not just because you learn about the process and can develop your own confidence in what's going on but also because it makes the other participants humans and i think that's just really important is for people across american society to see their fellow americans as human beings who are doing the best that they can to make democracy work it was a really inspiring experience to work as a poll worker for me and i think for many others who have done it before professor stewart jumps in i wanted to see if you could expand upon your statement earlier in relation to this question about there are other uh factors other other sectors that also have this sort of problem in terms of the people who are making these accusations of missing disinformation are also doing that at the at the school boards and uh at the police boards and things like that so how are they also combating these this missing disinformation if if you have an answer or comment on that as well well to some degree some of those folks are being dealt with by the local john darns um that um that the stories i am reading and some of the more extreme ones um are actually ones where law enforcement does get involved um and i you know that is a conversation that we need to have which is an unfortunate one because as professor brown has been saying we you know this system you know works and we get a wide variety of people in the polls and um i've personally seen what happens when skeptics get into the polls i mean well-meaning skeptics they're almost always converted over and so we need to think about that but there are some folks who not only won't listen but have taken taken the mission really to disrupt the system um and those are cases where law enforcement gets involved um um so i'll i'll just stop stop at that point um otherwise i think that we have a hard time um you know just understanding in general how to deal with people in universities have a very hard time understanding how to deal with people who won't listen to reason i'll just put it that way when you say people in universities you mean students or the professors [Laughter] do any of you have recommendations on how election officials or others can turn this tide you keep deferring i'll start i'll start i'll start you're sitting the closest yeah yeah thing number one um to election officials um um consistent with what's been said here i think thing number one is election officials do your job as well as you can i think that's the most important thing um elections are hard to do there's a lot of details it's a job that i could never do because i'm a slob and i'm i'm i'm you know i can't organize my way out of a panel um or anything like that it's a special calling it's a special job and the best you the better best you can do of that job um it will go a long way to making this a trusted and trustworthy um process um a couple other things that haven't been mentioned i do want to mention one that's been mentioned a lot within media and that is to develop relationships with the press and the media and i'm thinking here not necessarily about social media but thinking about local broadcast media local print media and online media um there are very few reporters there are more now but there are very few reporters who who cover elections as a beat and it's a constant job to reach out to kind of mainstream sources to make sure they understand what's going on so that they can serve the editorial function of sifting out the things that make sense from the things that don't make sense and so that's something that can be done i know a number of places do it but that i think would is really really valuable get to know who the reporters are get to know who the editors are um invite them for lunch invite them into the office on a regular basis do a petting zoo for the you know to show them all the equipment do those sorts of things to you know really help them understand the process when things uh when things happen um and um don't rely just on yourself you know we've talked about this several times before a lot of election departments are small and just take advantage i mean don't be distrustful of opportunities that are happening in the state with with local universities with local non-profits to help you deal with the issues so those are some thoughts i guess uh my closing thought on this is just please don't quit right like there's a in the face of great unreason which you will encounter in american politics from time to time right um there could be a sense of okay well there's just i'm not going to convince people to trust the thing that i'm doing so i'm i'm not going to try and i think it's you know in some ways we've been talking about different publics right and there there is a persuadable public um and at both sort of an elite level and at a mass level and there are great divides across beliefs right within these kinds of different coalitions of of people from different perspectives where they will have really different beliefs about how elections ought to be conducted um at times and that it's really hard to bridge those and to make a compromise about how you think you could actually do something to improve elections um and i think doing the really really hard work not for the people who are just implementing the election but at the policy-making level about how are we going to conduct elections in american states doing the really really hard work of trying to find compromised positions that actually make everybody feel better that's in this sort of persuadable range is just really really important and so i would encourage you to keep working at that i'd say all of that's right i'll i'll then address my comments to a more sort of drilled down area around this and that's about how election officials do they're communicating with the public and the messaging what we found in our research is that and and to address the multiple public's idea there are lots of different communities you're talking to and you have to talk to them in different ways and one size fits all communication campaigns don't work some of the most sophisticated and best messages that we took from election officials that they had created that i thought were brilliant absolutely fell flat when we talked to people who weren't from that community or from the demographic of the person who put them together and so even election officials who work in small offices have other people they can talk to and communi in working across generations and groups of people to think about what people hear and how to talk to people and and using various platforms and talking to people in different ways with different people is probably an important thing to do great great i think i'm going to ask melissa from pepperdine to start collecting the questions from the tables that folks have but in the meantime i would go back to i wanted to publicly thank senators globasharr and blunt for their remarks on the 20th anniversary of the help america vote act and their work together on a number of different issues and also to thank president bush for and his wife laura to for the kind remarks that they also put down there um for for the passage of hava in the anniversary um that we're about to approach on october 29th so hopefully folks have filled out these cards we probably won't get to all of them um in the brief time that we have left but i will read a couple of those and see where we go and hopefully folks have better handwriting than i do um so i am going to shuffle so that no one says that i am playing favorites um and one of the things that since we've been doing this earlier we will the first question will come from um someone who's attending the school here um abigail so she wants to know what constitutes a miss or disinform what constitutes missing or disinformation that would negatively affect the elections process so basic question so well any kind of messages that um the system's been rigged that you can't you know that that there's some kind of giant conspiracy that there's there's all kinds of fascinating messages some of the 2016 messages that that folks who study this determined were came out of russia you know with the intent of destabilizing us as a nation really were messages that where they were double down doubling down on cleavages that already exist so racial tensions class tensions um party tensions that all of these are the kinds of things that we're seeing i'm sure you all can add lots of them um so i i would say the thing that's most important to focus on are things that are sort of obviously untrue if you know how the system like works so you know you're looking at how the how the ballots come in and how the vote totals are reported and so on and there is an explanation for you know why this candidate got these votes at this time or so on and so forth and then for someone to persist in messaging something else about that that's sort of obviously untrue um that's the sort of the most damaging of the kind of disinformation um in terms of undermining the specific trust and and how the you know votes get tabulated yeah i mean the the i mean the types i mean some of the types of missing disinformation um especially just incorrect information about elections um kind of is kind of good old-fashioned misinforming people about how and where and when to vote um and we forget i mean it's kind of dumb um but it still happens of you know folks and inspect and with kind of the algorithms becomes easier to target you know adherence to the other party and slip them information about the wrong times to vote and those sorts of things so you know that's kind of the classic thing that can really mess up and really mess up an election i think that another thing that we have our eyes on our so-called deep fakes or at least the the use of visuals that claim to illustrate things that they actually don't illustrate um and this isn't a deep fake but but as an example of misillustration a classic example was the fulton county so-called ballot dump in 2020 where there were charges of election officials pulling um you know pulling ballots out of suitcases and kind of dumping them and when that was in fact you know pulling ballots out of a you know a a um a sealed box that is how these things are um these things are transported from you know the warehouse into the accounting facility and um well that illustration if you're inclined to believe um that things were rigged a an illustration like that taken out of context can be very powerful because a large number of people are swayed by pictures right rather than rather than just the words and if you can just say ah now here's state farm arena you know where that is and you know what they're doing and look there's a suitcase and look they're dumping i mean that can be particularly powerful so i think that's one of the ways in which it's a particular challenge right now because of multimedia that can kind of hit all the senses um to um you know under under undercut um trust uh this question comes from grace from the bipartisan policy center charles mentioned that there were similar levels of low public confidence in elections during the 1880s and 1890s and during the 1950s are there any lessons learned during those time frames that can be applied today ah i guess that's for me grace um so i've been um i've been reading um a lot of things from the 1950s actually recently um and um you know remember there was a social movement that grew up in the 1950s that claimed that eisenhower was a was a communist plant and um it kind of kind of went from there and um it was an important movement in this country for a number of years and then it fell apart why did it fall apart well one of the reasons it fell apart was eventually political elites came together to dampen it down in various ways and so um so then so then thinking about kind of this total societal total reform approach to this question i mean it seems to me that we want to think about what are the conditions under which we get out of the current males well the 1950s tells me that you eventually turn things around when the kind of the trusted um kind of political leaders decide they want to turn it around okay so um in the 1950s and and this is where kind of that you know the the history of the conservative movement in the united states is an important one to look at you know the rise of william buckley and the national review and all those sorts of things can be thought about as a movement among you know political elites who understood the corrosive um effects of you know what it does when you think the president is a communist uh and when it's coming from that side of the of the political spectrum and so at some point so that tells me under these conditions at some point we need to rely on leaders to come in and provide the messaging that yes you know we fight about various things on a policy level but we can assure you or we can show you how we can make sure that the process is moving correct and i um you know and you know the 19 um luminane wrote a book about kind of the period in the late 19th century early 20th century philosophers club i think it was which is kind of a similar story of elites being very concerned about the kind of the you know the blood ra raving waving the bloody shirt and those sorts of things during the 1880s and 1890s and how do you know college presidents and politicians and you know kind of the elite in society think about their role messaging with the public about how the world works so those are two cases where i think kind of things got under control unfortunately the 1850s is not is not a happy story because that one went off the rails and i'm hoping we're more like the 1950s in the 1880s and 90s if i if i could add something on that too one of my current research interests is about an organization that started in new york called the bureau of municipal research and they were involved in sort of good government research in new york city at the 1890s 1900 and so on when you sort of in you in your mind you have uh you know from an election administration perspective not the current problem of encouraging trust in elections but the tammany hall problem of encouraging trust in elections right there's a famous cartoon you know sort of you can vote for whoever whoever you want as long as i control the accounting right and so so how do you how do you deal with that and in some sense if an organization is all-powerful in that sense right how do you transition towards better elections um and the answer is that they're actually not all all powerful all the time right and that you get these splits for not just for you know better running of elections but a whole variety of political reforms in american politics where some elites perceive their electoral interests as aligned with cleaning things up and this is true also with the formal regulation of party primaries which wasn't always a thing and now is as that was cleaning up and regularizing the process and that people perceive it as a way of actually winning over voters in other places and so some of the way out of this current problem comes from citizens saying this is what we want our elected officials to sound like and do and people who are going to work on these kinds of issues yeah maybe we'll vote for them right and you don't have to get everybody you just have to get enough just flip the incentives and as soon as you flip the elite incentives then sometimes they'll do it because they're worried about what's gonna happen in the country but sometimes they'll do it because they want to get reelected all right so i think we'll go to one more question which will come from dean peterson prior to the 2020 election states both red and blue had reasons for limiting vote by mail in drop boxes could some of the distrust be related to sudden changes not necessarily outcomes and i wanted to act ask the academics on the panel for that absolutely um i've so i've been writing about this recently and um i've been following things i mean i've been doing some tick tocks of 2020 and just trying to see how um and it is interesting that in like february march there wasn't a whole lot of partisan division about what to do about the um about the pandemic and what to do and in fact i mean in fact you think about ohio just to said you know okay everyone out of the pool we're just going to mail you a ballot so that was that was a republican um controlled state georgia as well you know we're just going to delay this boom um we're just going to send everything you can apply for about ballot but but that's what we're going to encourage people to do and so there was a lot there was kind of a synergy and then you can begin to watch democrats and republicans kind of circling each other so and so there ended up being i as i characterize it kind of the good government crowd which consisted of democrats and republicans who were seriously concerned about getting this election you know there was going to be an election even if the zombies were walking the streets and the and the meteors were raining down on us it was going to happen and the serious people in the room were going to make that happen regardless of your part okay there were political actors um and i won't get into details here because i don't want to kind of again in that argument happy to on during the break but there were democrats and republicans who are also recognizing how as someone once said never uh you know you know overlook the opportunity of a crisis right and um and so on you know there there were political actors and some prominent ones who saw this as an opportunity to not only inc you know to allow people to vote by mail but to change the laws so that permanently we would all be voted by mail for instance that's just one example um and then that you can almost tick-tock it out day by day week by week as that discussion starts in state capitals but especially in washington you can see the divisions begin to grow okay um and um so yes i mean i'm i'm somebody and my colleagues might disagree with me but i think that that you can peg some of the current divisions to how the voting during the pandemic ended up getting you know kind of getting handled at the political level i would still maintain that in the core of that there was still a lot of good government right i mean i think most folks who are actually in the business of making the election happen if that's when there's striking things here most people actually responsible for making the election happen would just had their head down but the political chattering classes saw this as an opportunity to do their political chattering class thing and it became an opportunity on both sides so we can talk more about that but i think there's a good story to be told i think the only thing i'd add to what charles said is that from the perspective of the public um you know when when the the pandemic started what we know is that in crisis people come together and they're willing to support stuff and we we've got this other psychological process that we all have called habituation which means when we see something scary or terrible at first we respond in that way where we all come together but then we get used to it and um and then there's a lot of space to re-engage in political divisions again and and so so maybe part of what was happening there then is people got angry at opportunity-seeking moments the since since we're in california the thing i would the thing i would add here right is underlying a lot of this was an assumption about who different vote modes are just going to benefit right and the history of this in california is quite a bit different right because there's an election in the 1980s where people go to bed thinking that the democrat has won and wake up in the morning as more ballots have been counted and discovered that the republican has won and so this creates this perception that um the the voting by mail could benefit republicans right and and then there was a period about 15 years ago when i first started getting interested in this where there's a big debate about um whether forms of communities voting should be expanded mail voting or whether it should be early in person for the day right and there was a sort of period where people were trying to feel out like well who's who's going to come out ahead if we if we use these different these different methods right and uh certainly you know that's it's part of what goes on at the political level above the above the election administration right of making a political decision about how you know what what values to choose and so on is that there there probably is not a neutral way to always make those decisions right because there will be consequences to some small amount possibly but potentially consequences of the choices you make about how you conduct elections um at the you know state legislative level well i want to thank the panel and hopefully people can join in with me and give them a round of applause and before i call up the second panel i wanted to paraphrase what uh chuck levin said um in a statement not necessarily a question here of election administrators at the city county and state level coast to coast have done excellent work throughout our history keep it up and no apologies are necessary so thank you all [Applause] yes thank you uh oh okay before the sun came up it got on an early flight and everything worked out thank goodness right you never know with the fw honestly the biggest problem is la traffic that's the truth um so we're doing 130 to 250 so we'll get questions around 2 30 and i just have to mention at some point fill out here and like in about 15 minutes are we just ready to are we ready to just get going so if you'll take your seats we'll start with uh panel two so my name is christy mccormick i'm the vice chair of the election assistance commission i also want to thank pepperdine university and dean peterson and the staff here have been fantastic to work with and senators blunt and klobuchar and former president bush for their statements and i want to especially thank those who are participating and those of you who are here and watching online this is panel two on security and technology in elections um when java was passed 20 years ago there was not a lot of thought given to cyber security we were concerned with butterfly ballots as you recall with mechanical uh lever machines with all kinds of different things than we are today in the meantime since maybe seven or eight years after the 2000 election we had the advent of smartphones and all kinds of it's a whole different environment so times have changed and election security is top of mind for officials and for the public and as technology expands and evolves attention to securing all aspects of the process requires 24 7 vigilance in order to stay ahead of the next attempted hack or scheme on our systems elections are now designated as critical infrastructure and there has been a massive new ecosystem built around that realization and that designation coordination is one of our most powerful tools in the effort to secure elections as is our desperate election system we have ongoing coordination between the allied intelligence community federal state and local partners coordinating councils representing government and the private sector these partnerships are supplemented with hundreds of millions of dollars in resources to bring our election practices procedures and equipment up to date defended and protected election officials find themselves now needing to be well-versed if not experts in i.t and cyber security this is a whole new role in elections that never existed previously it's a complicated subject matter as our experts on this panel can tell you and it needs full-time focus in addition to a full-time focus on running elections themselves voters are concerned there's been a lot of media attention on the election process and elect election technology in the past five years and the american public wants to know what election officials are doing to safeguard the foundation of our democracy the panelists joining me today will be able to speak on this and i'd like to introduce to each uh panelist first we have uh professor dan wallach from rice university and the baker institute for public policy next to him we have tracy maps the vice president of sli compliance their laboratory tests our voting equipment and then finally we have mona harrington the acting assistant director for national risk management center nrmc from the department of homeland security's cyber security and infrastructure security agency or cisa so welcome to all our panelists i'm looking forward to hearing what you all have to say and following up with questions so professor wallach please feel free to start okay um a working audio yes uh chairman hicks vice chairman mccormick thank you very much for having me here it's a real pleasure to speak to all of you today i should also mention that i'm on the eac's technical guidelines development committee the tgdc so i had some tiny role in helping get the vvsg voluntary voting system guidelines 2.0 across the finish line which i think is fantastic um just like charles stewart i also got engaged in our elections shortly after the 2000 election prior to that i worked on security of things like web browsers i'm a computer scientist i think i might be the only computer scientist in the room so shortly after the 2000 election suddenly everybody was like hey how do elections work how did they not work right how are we going to make them work better and uh we started replacing older equipment lever machines from in some cases as old as the 1930s punch card machines from like the 1950s you know that were no longer the vendors who built them were long since out of business and we replaced those in large part with computerized paperless electronic voting machines and i was one of many computer scientists who found significant security vulnerabilities in those machines and i'm very pleased to report that in the past 20 years the situation has significantly improved we have largely reduced the market share of paperless electronic voting machines most voters today either hand mark a paper ballot or have a ballot marking device that marks it for them and that means that we have those paper ballots to stick around providing us evidence because at the end of the day the winner is always very happy to win the election but the loser requires evidence and that helps us accomplish that goal we saw that to some extent especially in georgia had there had georgia been using its paperless machines in the prior election things would have been a lot messier [Music] so an interesting question one of the things that's really novel when we talk about election security today versus 20 years ago is understanding the threat what's our adversary when you work in any kind of security you always say who's the threat who's the adversary what do i have to deal with and 20 years ago if i told you that the adversary in our elections is a foreign nation-state you know whether that's russia or china or iran or somebody else you would have said that's crazy a local election official trying to like it would have been incomprehensible for me to say that 20 years ago our local election officials need to deal with foreign overseas adversaries trying to tamper with our elections yet today yep that's what we deal with and it creates an amazing challenge but also an amazing opportunity to create these federal state and local partnerships to bring the expertise to bear on the problem so i'm going to talk super quick about two things that i think are few the future of better evidence in our elections and in the q a we can talk about these things in more detail the first thing i want to talk about is the risk limiting audit this was designed initially by berkeley statistics professor phillip stark and is i believe 10 states are either requiring it or using it in pilot elections now the idea of a risk-limiting audit is that you have computers are super fast at counting paper but we don't want to trust the computers and humans are very secure but they're slow so can we somehow combine these two in a meaningful way and the answer is we get together and roll physical dice and you know like ten sided dice d d players are like yeah i got those and we can bring the tv cameras make a very transparent open public process and then the the that random number helps us decide which ballots we're going to sample from the broader population the electronic ballots the physical paper ballots had better match up exactly and the cool mathematical observation i'm going to spare you equations today but the cool observation is if you you only have to prove that the er that the any possible error is smaller than the margin of victory and as long as you can prove that to a high degree of statistical certainty then you can say i'm confident we have the correct winner and do it with a lot less work so that's the idea of risk limiting audits they're being adopted increasingly by states i think it's a really important way of improving election transparency that doesn't require any really new technology the further fetched the awesome future science fiction but hopefully less science fiction is something called end-to-end cryptographic elections this is something that i'm working on jointly with microsoft and a number of other players and the goal is to be able to publish all of the records of an election in a way that voters can verify that their vote was tabulated correctly yet not be able to prove to a third party who they voted for so we want to protect voter privacy yet we want to have all this incredible public transparency so anybody can val verify that the election officials produce the correct tally um if i if i tried to draw some equations here i'd probably get yanked off the stage but the math has been around since the 1980s it's very well established and the computational power has caught up to the point that modern-day computers can do all of this very efficiently so that's what i'm working that's my research work and i think that's going to be maybe a decade away from broad public adoption although microsoft is going to be doing a pilot election in an unspecified county this november so we'll see thank you for professor wallach next we'll go to tracy maps who's vice president of sli compliance thanks for being here tracy thank you thank you vice chair mccormick oh and i should say a pepperdine mom as well i was going to say that okay so i'll still keep it in here um thank you for the invite to participate in this important event in addition to recognizing java 20 java at 20 i'd like to also congratulate pepperdine university on the 25th anniversary of their school of public policy for me speaking at this event is especially fun because like vice chair mccormick said my son is an undergrad student here at pepperdine seeing students that are interested in becoming the next generation of policy and political leaders in the u.s is encouraging and exciting the role of our policy makers in election technology has become even more important along with the need for election officials to have an i.t management mindset and skill set this will become increasingly imperative in the future as technology continues to evolve and be implemented in elections throughout the u.s to make a difference in the longer term i feel that youth participation in politics and election technology is essential thank you so much for being here today sli compliance is one of two accredited labs under the national voluntary accreditation program of the national institute of standards and technology and by the eac is a voting system test lab qualified to test voting systems to federal standards for those of you who don't know section 231b of the help america vote act hobbit 2002 requires that eac provide for the accreditation of non-federal laboratories to test voting systems to federal standards as an accredited test lab from the onset of hava i'm sorry not only has sli compliance been testing electronic voting systems as an accredited lab from the onset of hava but sli compliance was also designated as an independent test authority by the national association of election directors when they first established an ita certification program we have been at the forefront of testing voting systems for more than 20 years time and time again when talking about what i do i find that people are not aware of the extensive testing that voting systems undergo before being utilized in elect in elections i often find myself educating people on what a voting system test lab or vstl is and why they are a key behind the scenes contributor in helping to keep elections secure by conducting certification testing against the federal standards while also partnering with the eac and state and local jurisdictions the certification test effort is an end-to-end process that examines tests and stresses the entire system from beginning to end in addition to functional testing document review and hardware testing secure source code reviews trusted builds and targeted security testing is conducted on voting systems by vstls once all vvsg requirements about 1200 of them are determined to be met a test report and a copy of the final trusted build is delivered to the eac to be stored in their repository with the increased concerns around elections and in an effort to increase confidence we've been requested and have worked with election administrators to perform pre and post-election configuration checks to verify that only certified or expected versions of the software and no unauthorized software is present on the election system that could compromise the integrity of the election process federal information processing standards or fips compliant hashing algorithms are used to confirm the software and data have not been modified in any manner from the originally tested baseline this is just one example of how vstl's a part of the private sector are working with election officials today to verify their voting systems and elections are secure to provide an example of how the tests and certification program is advancing to increase confidence in voting systems with the newest version of eac's test and certification program manual vstls will perform penetration testing as a part of the test readiness review the stls will conduct penetration testing using a standardized security analysis methodology approved by the eac to identify architecture design and implementation flaws prior to the system undergoing certification testing this could include identifying systemic functional reliability or security flaws that could potentially change the outcome of an election provide erroneous results for an election or modify the audit trail all before the tech the test campaign even begins via sales will verify there is no malicious software or firmware that may have been introduced to change the outcome of an election to provide erroneous results for an election or to deny service to voters there are obviously many aspects to consider in effort to increase voter confidence in elections and the equipment used during elections i feel that with the improved coordination between private and government sectors like the work being done by the critical infrastructure government and private sector coordinating councils we have already made advances and i look forward to new implementations to improve and protect the accessibility accuracy auditability and security of elections before the celebration of 21 years of hava thank you tracy next we'll go to mona harrington from uh says or national risk management center thank you thank you chairwoman mccormick really excited to be here with all of you today in recognition of the 20th anniversary in the signing of haba and the 25th anniversary of the pepperdine school of public policy to discuss security and technology in elections just a quick overview of scissors mission in the election space cis's overarching mission is to ensure the security and resiliency of nation's critical infrastructure as was mentioned previously in january of 2017 dhs designated in election infrastructure as critical infrastructure which allowed dhs through cisa to prioritize federal assistance to the election sub-sector technology in the evolving threat landscape has shaped the role of election officials and election officials have seen a significant expansion of their duties beyond simple election administration to a position more akin to technology and information managers and i.t managers the election community are on the front lines of phishing attempts ransomware attacks ddos attacks including cyber intrusions from both sophisticated nation states as well as non-nation state adversaries as demonstrated in recent election cycles our democracy faces continuing threats from foreign cyber and influence operations targeting the u.s election infrastructure and voters this persistent threat reaffirms the need to continue federal support to state and local election officials state and local election officials cannot be expected to combat sophisticated nation-state-sponsored threat actors alone sizza has evolved to help meet the challenging security needs of the sub-sector and has ensured that the sub-sector has the tools and services and resources to combat these threats and to build resiliency into their systems since this designation the sub-sector has made incredible progress improving the security and the resilience of our elections sizza and its federal partners are much better positioned to get timely and actionable intelligence and information out to the election infrastructure sub-sector and into the hands of owners and operators of election infrastructure siza has strengthened its situational awareness of cyber activity in the cyber security risk landscape for election infrastructure by building strong relationships across the election infrastructure and sub-sector those partnerships are critical to our success all 50 states and hundreds of election officials have deployed siza funded or state-funded intrusion detection sensors known as albert sensors throughout the multi-state information sharing analysis center also known as the ms isac hundreds of election officials and private sector election infrastructure partners have signed up for cisa cyber security services ranging from recurring scanning for known vulnerabilities on internet connected infrastructure to in-depth penetration testing the sub-sector voluntarily shares information about potential cyber security incidents and anomalous activity on their networks to sizza the es the eii sac and the fbi election officials continue to make incredible progress in securing and building resilience to the election infrastructure sizza is ensuring the security of our election infrastructure and it remains one of our highest priorities at the agency thank you thanks mona um i'll start with you on a question uh you talked about resiliency and we hear that term a lot what does that really mean like when we talk to the public about resiliency do you can you give me kind of a definition of what that means in the voting system space yeah sure you know resiliency is about mitigation strategies hardening systems ensuring that you have safeguards in place that you're able to forecast potential risk and you're able to map that potential risk to strategies that would help mitigate that risk hardening systems securing networks and ensuring that you have compensating controls and a defense in-depth approach to how you look at your entire security posture and ways to strengthen that sounds like a a big job and big responsibility with lots of time what kind of resources does sizza have to help election officials with that says it has quite a bit of resources i don't know if you've had the opportunity to look at the cisa.gov website but we offer a number of services through the eii sac we put out alerts we offer threat briefings that are both classified and declassified we have a number of resiliency type best practices and guides to educate and put out materials factual impair materials educational materials we offer tabletops and other election related trainings that are customizable work products and toolkits and such so that election officials can take those products and turn them in what they need to with the threats that they may be specifically facing so there's no shortage of services we also have psas in the space regionally located where those are protective cyber security advisors that election officials can contact and a number of best practices on our sites we offer cyber security scanning services and other services that can assist election officials immediately and improve the security posture tracy you describe described some of the details of the testing um program of voting systems uh it seemed like not so long ago uh no one really cared about that other than some academics like professor wallach now everyone is interested in that uh can we trust our voting systems how do we educate the public on what you do or do you have some ideas on that and the many layers of what goes into a testing program on the voting systems that's a good question i think that's something that i've thought about myself is just how to educate the public on what we do i think having forums like we have today talking about testing that's done by voting system test labs is one way i think the eac can also help with that i think that there's information on the eac website that shares information about the voting system test labs about the accreditation process shares information about the voluntary voting system guidelines that we test to i think states and jurisdictions could also do the same the majority of states require that a voting system is either certified by the eac or tested by a voting system test lab and i think sharing that information with public with their elections officials their voters would be beneficial professor wallach you mentioned risk limiting audits or rlas um and that they're being increasingly being used to validate elections and maybe we need to get d d players uh involved with that process but are there any downsides to our rlas and are they measurably better than other types of audits so one way to think of an rla is a more efficient recount so we could imagine doing a recount on any election at any time but you know i think i was chatting with dean logan earlier and he said we have three and a half million ballots in los angeles that could take a while to count whereas in a risk limiting audit if the margin is relatively wide you might only need to look at a hundred ballots and a hundred ballots might give you a 95 confidence interval that you have the correct outcome that's a lot more efficient that's an afternoon of work rather than a week of work and if the rla fails or rather if it fails to meet the risk limit then that means you have to do more work but that also means that you've perhaps uncovered evidence that something went wrong and so that's a good thing if you have a process and a procedure that can efficiently say looks good or needs so something is weird here we need to look in more detail if that's part of a regular election officials procedure that helps mitigate against some of the cyber risks that we've been talking about it's good to have process and procedure that can find problems and mitigate them so if you're counting 100 ballots when you have that many as the election gets closer you're counting many more ballots right where is the point at which it doesn't pay to do a risk limiting audit is there is there that point so it turns out that your goal is to say that the margin of error is smaller than the margin of victory so in the limit if i have an election decided by one vote then my margin of error i can tolerate is one and that means that we're going to end up doing a full recount but that's often something that happens in procedures that have been in place prior to rlas that very close elections sometimes have automatic recounts so that's not crazy what is what i like about this is that most elections don't have these crazy tight margins yet we can still gain assurance and especially when we have people who are questioning election outcomes with or without any basis to question those election outcomes if we can have if we can provide evidence if we can provide publicly visible procedure then that can help mitigate some of the misinformation that we talked about in the prior panel so for all of you from your perspective how has election security how is the election security landscape changed since elections were designated as critical infrastructure in 2017 and i'll i'll start with you because you're right here so um what's your perspective on how things have changed since it's been designated critical infrastructure so i was invited to testify at a house hearing in september of 2016 and there was this this was exactly what was the top one of the topics at hand and i think the single biggest change is that the federal government piled in resources through sisa and that had an enormous impact that where we're from the government we're here to help actually happened and it was helpful not everybody appreciates the federal state split between how elections work election law is different in each of the 50 states and many states are suspicious of the federal government nosing into their election business but the expertise to deal with the nation-state threats is generally not with the states and local election officials and what cesa did to their in to their credit toot your horn for you is be helpful i mean imagine that they actually really were helpful and helped build these procedures penetration testing and that had a real positive impact ronald reagan is rolling over in his grave right now and just over the hill tracy what are your thoughts on how has your testing regime changed what's happened since uh elections were desiccated i don't know about testing regimes necessarily i do have to say um just along the lines of what professor wallach said i think that since the designation of critical infrastructure there's now a more collaborative effort and focus on security that we're now working together you know manufacturers voting system test labs scissor government officials i think that there's now this lifeline to a support system that can offer assistance to anyone in those areas from you know network network security challenges to election crisis and even supply chain management i think that there's now like i said this lifeline of support we've undergone some of those assessments that mona speaks about that has been huge for our test lab to make sure that we address any of those vulnerability risks that maybe we didn't see in house we brought someone else in to take a look at those and i think that's where we've made the biggest focus mona what are your thoughts on how things have changed yeah so to dan's point i think thank you we want to help we do help our services and what we provide has significantly increased i think our partnerships our relationships with the federal government our relationships with state local tribal territories has improved dramatically um i think are um you know just in general since 2017 the attacks have become much more sophisticated and the volume of tax has certainly um increased and so with the sophistication and the volume we've all had to really work together to come up with strategies to have on how to really secure the posture i think we've come a really long way i think we could list a lot of partnerships as well as services and products that speak to how far election officials have come since 2017 and the situational awareness on what we really need to start thinking about with forecasting risk and mitigating risk in advance and becoming more resilient and so um but there's still more work to be done of course and we have no reason to expect that our adversaries are going to back off now or in 2024.
so staying with you um the current threat environment necessitates a coordinated response from all levels of government uh and support from our private sector partners as well what resources are available to assist election officials to assess and improve their current security posture you kind of touched on this a little bit yeah i think i've mentioned a little bit of this already you know just reviewing that again with all of you the classified and unclassy classified briefings are really important because that's our ability to share information um where possible cesar will declassify information to get the right information into owner and operator's hands so that they can make a meaningful difference um and deal with that potential threat the eii sac has alerts that go out that are very useful to understand what action actions you can take election officials can take um to quell those threats there's over 3 400 election entities that have joined that service um if you're an election official and you haven't joined that service highly recommend that you do that um one thing we hadn't talked about is the government coordinating council and the sector coordinating council i think that partnership especially with the election assistance commission is incredibly helpful um the election assistance commission co-chairs the government coordinating council with sizza and that partnership is incredibly useful in just sharing information and again trying to mitigate threats we also have a number of assessments and different tools both for physical and cyber potential threats in the space so those can be utilized you know i think it's really important to note that all of these services that i'm talking about that are offered are free of charge and available i think one of the things that election officials certainly can do is um you know the department of justice stood up a crime task force and so there are resources in every region from the fbi in case there are threats or other incidences that need to be reported it's good to get to know that person that serves your area prior to an incident you don't want to exchange business cards when you're in the middle of an incident so i think it's a great idea to get to know your regional resources also the sizza resources that are out there including the protective security advisors that are located out in the region so there's a number of resources and we continue to add more we've got uh last mile products i don't know if you've heard of those um but those are customizable and election officials can add in what they need to add in that would speak more to their jurisdiction and the way that they administer elections as i say fully plagiarizable exactly and every other environment that's a no-no in this one do it um the aic recently adopted vvsg 2.0 uh what effect do you believe these new guidelines will have on the future of voting system security and accessibility and we'll start with you since you were a part dan of the tgdc that recommended these guidelines wow so the earlier guidelines were very very detailed in ways that you'd have to be a real computer nerd to to appreciate functions must be so many lines of code and only a certain amount of branching and they have very very particular things to say the vvsg 2.0 takes a big step backward and describes principles your code should be clean it should be readable it should be extensible rather than micromanaging it instead it has these broad principles and the principles give more opportunity for vendors to innovate so that i all by itself is in many respects it's catching up with modern software engineering as it's practiced in the rest of the industry that's great there's more room for a vendor to innovate rather than feeling they need to check literally thousands of check boxes we'll see how many check boxes it turns into because nobody's actually been certified to vvsg 2.0 yet coming soon um i i know one vendor is working on it real hard um i've i did i've done some consulting with voting works which is a not-for-profit trying to break into this space and i can talk about some of that experience later if anybody wants to hear about it um anyway so the the vvsg also has this this notion of cryptographic voting systems that i hinted at earlier and there i think nist is holding a workshop on that in the next month or two i mean this is further out but it was contemplated in the vvsg 2.0 so we have a lot of room to make things even better in the future which i think is again fantastic stuff and tracy your lab is about ready to get accredited to testing 2.0 systems yeah it's been a long process yeah so we're very excited yeah speak to 2.0 yeah maybe in the future i agree with you dan i think that there are some very specific requirements that i think that are going to help enhance voting systems in the future i made some notes of these because i tend to get scattered and i don't want to forget anything but you know there are some very specific accessibility requirements that are going to help to provide more consistent experience for all voters you know and that's exciting i think that a number of accessibility requirements are included to support full accessibility throughout the voting process um and not only are the systems going to be required to meet accessibility requirements for voters but the systems are also going to need to be usable and accessible for election workers which i think is different from the previous requirements which is exciting there are a number of new cyber security requirements that require election systems such as e-poll books voter registration systems election reporting systems to be air gapped from the voting system that's all good stuff and very important the vvsg200 also requires that a voting system be incapable of broadcasting a wireless network just to speak to some of what you brought up with the risk limiting audits there are some auditability requirements that are going to help enhance the ability for election officials to identify failures in system software so they can be detected and resolved easier you know i think that you talked about their when doing the risk limiting audits i think that some of these changes with these requirements are going to make it easier to find some of those problems during those audits and other types of audits manufacturers are also going to be required to provide procedures to verify that cast records are correctly tabulated and that was not something that was in the previous requirements so those are just i think some specifics um that i think are going to help to enhance our voting systems going forward yeah and actually um you know you talked about accessibility that was one of the major focuses of the health america vote act that we needed to make our systems accessible and we've made great strides in that area but we still have a long way to go we have a long way to go but i think these are going to be huge improvements with 2.0 mona do you have anything to add to that i'm just really excited to see the standards get put into play and see new voting machines come out and watch how that market evolves and um get us into a much better cyber security posture and physical posture with compensated controls and a real um new set of guidelines that are long overdue so really excited to see that getting closer like over a decade overdue so um and professor wallach you mentioned um you know that there's a little piece of e2e in vvsg 2.0 is e2e in the far future of technology or is it closer than it appears in the mirror you know if there's okay you've perhaps heard the phrase internet time where things move very quickly that was certainly the case in the early 2000s where things were evolving very rapidly in the space of dot-com companies elections operate on a very different time scale change happens over a pace of decades not over a pace of months that's just how it is and i the current generation of systems that are being purchased don't have these kinds of sophisticated cryptographic features and that's okay um so let's see what can i say that's public uh microsoft has announced that they're working with hard inner civic which is one of the big three vendors and hart is running microsoft's election guard which is this end-to-end encrypted system inside their existing hardware platform that their verity something a ballot marking device scanner and that will be deployed in not publicly announced yet county this november for some kind of trial election so going from pilots and trials to figuring out where wow we had a problem here we need to fix that going from an election in a small undisclosed county to say the largest county in the u.s you know going from say 5 000 ballots to 3 million ballots there are going to be issues and speed bumps and we're going to get over them it's probably not i would say 10 years on the long end maybe maybe we'll do something sooner someplace sooner it's it's i i'm very bad at predicting the future but i think we're going to get there and it's going to be very it's going to be very exciting to have that extra level of transparency in our elections does this include blockchain oh dear would you believe that my lyft driver on the way up was quizzing me about blockchain this is what happens when you say you're a computer scientist um do not buy cryptocurrencies anyway [Laughter] so underneath every electronic cryptographically verifiable voting system there's some notion of publishing all of the encrypted ballots to the public so that translates to a web server or something which has a database full of these things that you can download that doesn't mean we need to burn down forests to find hash collisions so we but there might very well be data structures built from hash functions so that's intellectually adjacent to a blockchain but there's none of this proof of work nonsense so if you understand how a blockchain works you're 80 of the way to understanding what a public bulletin board is but we're not burning down forests and we're not and spending money is not the same thing as voting those are different kinds of transactions we still have privacy in voting hopefully yeah yeah it's there's this sort of naive thing that says if i can spend money anonymously that feels like voting therefore i have a system i can use to vote and let's vote on the internet there are like three massive intellectual leaps shoved into that one little sentence and we are nowhere near ready for that that's true um so following on the last panel how can security and we've touched on this a little bit how can the security of the systems be used to increase public confidence in elections um or are is the electorate going to get disillusioned and demand hand counting of paper ballots we've heard some of this out in the you know social media atmosphere anybody want to talk about that okay um paper hand counting has a problem which is that it's slow and surprisingly inaccurate humans make errors so i hope that that's not the immediate solution that everybody says to our problems because time getting timely election results matters and so i think the efficiency of an rla style process is going to be important and i love the thing that the panelists in the prior panel spoke about which is the importance of getting people engaged in the process as poll workers to see how it works from the inside and that's that's really important i this panel isn't really about misinformation and disinformation and i don't know how we're going to fix that problem but if we can provide better evidence and better transparency then i'm going to borrow a phrase from the prior panel the people who are open to persuasion can be persuaded and that's better than nothing if i can just add on to that and it's a little bit separate but you know i think the importance of working as election workers or poll workers really is so important and that's something that we've done in our lab is that we've encouraged our testers our test engineers to go out and work as poll workers i think it gives them the ability to see what's really happening in the field to go out and use the system in a different way rather than just being in a test lab and testing to the different requirements but you've got you know voter a here and voter b here and they're throwing this at you and throwing that at you and then trying to use the equipment it gives you just a completely different perspective and understanding of how important it is that these systems are secure usable um and whatnot yeah so mona uh sizza and the cyber uh security community often uses the phrase defense in depth uh can you talk about this concept and how it applies to securing election systems yeah sure um so in my mind defense in depth is an information security approach that incorporates layers of controls and multiple mitigations and redundancies so you want to avoid any single point of failure but you also want to protect against a variety of cybersecurity threats so there's no one mitigation strategy that's going to address all of that so you have to think in terms of how do i stack my security so that i'm covering all potential uh threats within what looks like the attack vector so when you are designing that you're adding multiple controls and ensuring that you're implementing a sound and robust security plan some examples of that with elections include intrusion detection systems network segmentation um robust multi-factor authentication um the albert sensors um other um other um security layers that would help with compensating controls or even policies and procedures can also be part of that defense in-depth approach just because they will guide a certain approach of how you do something that help protect that helps protect whether it's cyber security or physical so it's a multitude of security layers that all formulate together to really increase that cyber security posture some of the other things you know when i think of defense in depth i think of chain of custody um audits um logic and accuracy testing again all of those different compensating controls come together to formulate that strong security posture with that defense in depth mindset how are we doing in that area you know how's the election community are we there yet or we still have a lot of work to do i think the election community does an incredible job with defense in depth i think really that's a very real narrative that is um really providing layers of security so if you talk about voting machines you're not just talking about the vvsg and what those standards are you're also talking about all of the physical controls and other compensating controls and post-election audits and logic and accuracy testing and the combination of all that is what gives you the accurate picture of what the security looks like and if you take any one of those pieces out you're not getting a full picture i think some of the narratives and things that we heard in the last couple of years don't always take into consideration the reality that there is a defense in depth approach and there are multiple layers um that give you a more accurate picture of what the security posture looks like anybody else want to add to that so i'll just say uh like a simple example of having paper ballots and electronic tallies and electronic records means that if you accidentally lose one you still have the other whereas so even if somebody managed to hack into the computer somehow and cause them to arrange for the wrong tally to be published you have this other path to get back to the ground truth and so using the right policies and procedures you can be resilient against different threats it's not to say that somebody can't hack the computer but we're going to make that harder and it's not to say that somebody can't stuff the paper ballot box but we're going to make that harder too but combining them together we can defend against both and all of that raises the bar i think along with that just another key point is that when we look at voting systems and we're doing certification testing one of the things that we look at is the documentation the procedures that the manufacturers submit to us around the voting systems and i think election officials need to make sure that they're using those documents those procedures that are put out by the manufacturers if you're not following those procedures i think that you could have configuration type issues configuration setup type issues security issues those types of things so it's very important to use the manufacturer procedures that have been verified and certified by the ec so what about open source technology i mean our vendors are very uh close to the vest about their technology and their codes and their software and everything can we keep our systems protected that way is that is that a route we should think about taking so i'll go out on a limb since i'm an academic and take a a strong position and say that trade secrets have no place in our elections this is not a widely held view but you know if if vendors have intellectual property they want to protect that's what copyright and patent are for but i think trade secrecy goes against the transparency that we want for our election outcomes so the incumbent mainstream vendors don't seem to buy into this idea and maybe we can push them with regulation i mentioned voting works which is a not-for-profit startup that's trying to compete in this space and everything that votingworks does is open source the microsoft election guard project that i'm participating in that's all open source and i think that there's a lot of room for open source to find its way into other parts of the election system does that open it up also to the bad guys to figure out our system well see the thing is you all you have to if our bad guy our threatened model is is nation-state adversaries we have to assume that our nation-state adversaries are familiar with the sophisticated technology of ebay and that they can acquire used copies of these machines and reverse engineer them and and find the attacks so the adversary already knows everything they need to know in order to attack these systems therefore why not let everybody else in and then maybe we can find more problems and fix them earlier any other thoughts on that on the panel nope nobody's going to address that the academic well so um as we look toward the next 20 years of java and election technology what do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for election officials and the elected election-related agencies like the eac or cisa is it staying ahead of the bad guys communicating the security of the system something else what are our biggest challenges and opportunities so when i think of the next 20 years i think election officials will have a regular funding stream they don't have that um i think having additional funding to be able to make the investments that are needed regardless of what the challenges are today whether it's cyber security or it's misdiscipline information or it's buying a cyclical replacement that might cost you you know uh enormous amounts of money to change your voting machines in your state or your jurisdiction so having the funding to do that i think positions election officials really well to be able to invest in their networks and whatever issues or challenges they're having it's really hard to say what would be happening in 20 years but in a perfect world the vvsg is an iterative agile product that voting machine vendors can build robust modern secure systems and those systems can be patched regularly without concern almost a cultural or mind shift into the next 20 years of we've got to stay on top of this we can't be afraid to patch and what it'll do the systems have to become more modern and secure and the entire process from cradle to grave from a new system being built to the iterative vvsg process all have to work in a synergy that allows for a very quick turn to respond to threats because the bad actors are creating them quicker than we are finding solutions so in my mind in 20 years from now election officials will have really robust funding that they can count on voting machines will be in a much better place and be updated much more regularly the market will be much more competitive and last but certainly not least the election assistance commission would be funded better and positioned to be able to carry out their mission successfully with the vast responsibility with testing and certification and how critical that is to making our critical infrastructure more resilient thank you mona as our former executive director we appreciate the cheerleading tracy or dan do you have challenges opportunities in the next 20 years you know it's i think it's hard for me to speak to from an election official standpoint i'm certainly not on the front line having to deal with fighting disinformation or threats to physical harm those types of things i i feel like everyone is doing what they should be doing trying to educate the public and working collaboratively between private sectors and government sectors to find solutions i think we need to continue to support one another and share information about the issues that we've had along with the solutions that that we've learned and to continue to grow from our findings and dan before you address this um if you have questions fill out your cards and melissa will be coming around to collect those cards so we can ask your questions as well go ahead dan challenges and opportunities so without a doubt the end-to-end encrypted election technologies i think are something in the next 20 years that will go from you know cool idea to real world deployment and we will discover issues and that'll be and 20 years from now we might actually really figure it out and that might require rethinking how we test and certify in in it might create a very different relationship between testing and certification labs and voting system vendors um and that's going to be because then you might have to have like a standardized component that the cryptographic component the vendor doesn't touch and then they come to you the certification lab and they say we're using election guard and we didn't mess with it and you go okay check and exactly how that's going to work will be really interesting you know saying we didn't mess with it but oh we just had to break it around the edges those details might matter um in so many weird and inexplicable and hard to predict ways um i could also see that as we iterate both in terms of speeding up i love this idea of speeding things up i'm going to borrow a military term called an uda loop observe orient decide act and when military theorists are planning their things they say whoever can do that loop faster wins you know if you can out maneuver the the adversary you're gonna win and that applies in elections versus election adversaries as well we need to be able to get greater agility in how election officials conduct their business and that's going to be a real sea change i mean right now we have election equipment in some parts of this country that's still running software that's over a decade old and that's just not going to fly in the future we're going to have to be able to move much more quickly so let's go to some of the questions and i'll do what commissioner hicks did this question is how do you build trust when voter trust is built on transparent quote glass box technologies not quote black box technologies and proprietary administrative hardware anybody want to try that one uh you don't so i guess the the older round of electronic voting systems were very much a black box you voters touched the screen or spun the wheel they said and then you say cast your vote it waves a little american flag and you and then at the end of the day they announce who wins and there's there was no transparency at all between that where you hit the enter button and what came out at the end and that that was the there were like multiple books titled black box voting or black box this that was where we were in the early 2000s where we are today is significantly better than this you know this is where where the paper and the process and the auditing comes in so it's definitely an improvement in terms of transparency um and i almost wonder if the problem is that people just aren't aware of how much things have improved that you know a lot of this change has come very recently and that we haven't wrapped our heads around what it's going to mean and how it's going to work anybody else want to tackle that question i think it's a little hard to you know be concerned that you don't know exactly what the source code looks like and what's in the machine for that to result in a complete lack of trust because of the way modern technology works and where we are with systems and technology in general to me i think maybe just pivoting a little bit maybe it's it's more about election officials allowing for observers election officials putting out educational materials election officials pre-bunking where there are big opportunities for misunderstandings and misinformation and just really education around the process the controls how does it work um is there a paper um trail can you verify that it was cast as intended all of those questions that voters want to know and should get those answers and so elections are clearly decentralized and you know educating yourself through trusted voices and figuring out exactly how elections are run and what those processes and procedures what led what the legislation says as far as how it works and educating yourself on that would probably bring in my mind more confidence than knowing the zeros and ones of the source code um and or what's behind quote-unquote the black box tracy i think that you know we do source code review we look at the code on the voting systems and we do extensive code review security code reviews um and so maybe it's instead of opening that up for other people to see maybe it is that education of what those code reviews might entail um how extensive the testing is done by the voting system test labs you know i think like i said in my opening statement time and time again i talk to people and they have no idea that there are voting system test labs out there that are doing testing on voting systems and i think that educating people to let them know about the testing that's being done may be helpful so this question uh will the technology grow more complicated to the point quote user error is going to become a big problem or are we going in the opposite direction is it getting easier harder yeah i mean i think one of when i was with the election assistance commission and we worked with the tgdc and nist and all of our wonderful partners in developing the voluntary voting system guidelines one of the really important pieces of that was usability i'd also like to think as technology advances exponentially as it is that that would become less and less of an issue because usability is incredibly important and so is accessibility um and the experience and so i actually um think we have a lot of other challenges and that may not necessarily be one that's top of mind right now i'd say usability is is improving the earlier voting machines often had like touch screen calibration issues or the click wheel on the hard inner civic the as you spun the wheel faster the cursor didn't move in the same linear way it was a mess a lot of really basic usability work has gone on and has paid off um there's a group called the center for civic design whitney quiz and varying company they have done so much work on what's the right font size what's the what are the right colors how how much information on a screen is too much some of my colleagues at rice or psychologists who i work with have done a ton of work on how do we make sure that voters notice any discrepancies so that way like they we modified our our in-house prototype voting machine to lie to the user on the summary screen you vote a for president it shows you b and measure how many voters notice and you can change things about about how you present information to increase the likelihood that people notice these things because these are things you want the voter to notice and so these are in some sense active research topics that will feed back into the design and engineering of voting machines so here's a question from a school public policy student while a risk limiting audit would give a 95 or 99 confidence interval on the results of our election there's undoubtedly the possibility that an rla can provide an incorrect election result given an already skeptical american public in regard to election security would an rla serve to increase confidence in elections so i can tell you the numbers i can't tell you how people will internalize those numbers you know when when i tell you that um there is a i have a 95 confidence that i have the correct outcome of the election what that you know there's a when i say confidence interval equals 95 that is a very precise statistical meaning but unless you've taken a bunch of stats classes you might misinterpret that so ultimately the way i expect that we will develop public confidence in the outcome of our elections is the same way we develop public confidence in everything which is that we trust experts um we trust the television pundit we trust the newspaper editor who declares something as a you know we we delegate our trust in the real world you know why do i believe that my car is going to be safe when i get into a crash you know did i personally go and verify the structural engineering of my car no i'm trusting that there was a certification process that my car wouldn't have been sold to me if it wasn't crash-worthy and that i'm trusting a process i might not be trusting the car dealership but i trust the engineering and i trust the certification and testing there's something like that here that at the end of the day we can provide evidence that experts might only an expert might be able to know exactly what it means to say we have a 95 confidence that we have the correct outcome but those experts are the people who are going to be you know the talking heads on the television and if the experts are convinced then they they will help convince the persuadable population i love that turn of phrase i'm going to use that often anybody else want to weigh in in that no okay what are your thoughts on the testing of non-voting election systems like electronic poll books or ballot delivery systems tracy start with you yeah i think that i think that all of these components should be tested i think right now unfortunately we don't have an eac certification program for that but i think it's something that you're looking at and so i think it's important you know in developing those standards to test those systems too you know we need to pull together a number of individuals individuals from state and local jurisdictions tech experienced people scissor folks vstls manufacturers to help identify what the best standards are to test all of that election equipment too there are some states that are already doing testing on their e-poll books their vote their voter registration systems election night reporting as a voting system test lab we've participated in a lot of that testing but i do feel that there should be a central set of standards that these systems are tested to so that they can be certified and help election officials to make sure that these systems are secure can you discuss how common data formats interoperability and component testing could impact or influence the voting equipment market in the future oh yeah so right now every election vendor has their own data formats for everything and what that means is that if if you're trying to i don't know builds an election auditing tool that's reading in digital ballot formats you have to build an importer for each of the vendor each vendor because they're all slightly different and if we had truly common data formats then you'd be able to mix and match then you'd be able to buy a voting system from one vendor but you'd be able to buy an election management system from another vendor wouldn't that be cool that would increase competition in the market right now you kind of buy everything all at once and you eat so a vendor either wins the whole contract for a county or they win nothing common data formats could potentially break that up that would be huge for you know actual market forces to do their work and maybe some innovation yeah that would allow a smaller vendor to come in and say we're going to do this one little piece and we're going to do that little piece better than anybody else and we're going to connect to and integrate with all your existing stuff yeah that interoperability is key right now i mean not everybody realizes this the computer industry used to be super vertically integrated you didn't buy an ibm mainframe and then an oracle database and then a different application you bought the whole software stack from hardware up to the software everything you'd buy from ibm or wang or one of these other old companies and the small scrappy little startup name microsoft came along and smashed that and we created the idea that you can get your pc from one company your os from microsoft your applications from somebody else and that was a revolutionary idea and now today when i need to go buy a printer or whatever monitor anything from my computer i've got competition the voting system industry is absolutely not like that at all they're still like the computer industry of the 1960s and i it would be so awesome if they caught up to the 80s anybody else on that i won't disagree that common data formatting is a good thing i think that there are pros and cons of integrating systems and the whole idea of testing those integrated systems makes my head spin it you know it's a lot it's component testing it's component testing and then making sure that those components work with other pieces it's complex yeah and so i think that with vvsg2o there's that introduction of common data formatting and i think that there's a lot to consider going forward to get to an integrated system using various components so uh there has been we've touched on this there has been some noise about moving to hand marked and hand counted ballots what would that do to the election process it would be very very slow and speed matters yeah yeah it would affect voter confidence yeah and when we have i mean i think my ballot this fall in in texas is probably going to have somewhere north of 70 or 80 questions for me to answer so tabulating ballots that have that many contests on them you know in texas we vote for our judges 30 40 50 of them it just goes the ballot goes on forever and as long as that's what ballots look like hand tabulating those kinds of ballots would just take forever that's it let's use computers for what they're good at and then come up with policies and procedures around it to to mitigate against the risks so one last question and when i read this i think of that commercial where the old lady says that's just not how it works we've heard a lot about how the systems may have been hacked in 2020 and the results filtered through computers in germany or italy or china can that really happen does that happen there's zero evidence that any of that actually happened um the only public evidence that i'm aware of is that is in the misinformation and disinformation side of the house but in terms of actually monkeying with the the ballots and the tabulation there is absolutely zero evidence that any of that has happened at all doesn't mean it didn't happen it just means that i don't know what the basis is for any of these claims [Laughter] you know i think there's a combo of technological physical procedural controls that election officials use to secure voting systems there's the logic and accuracy testing the robust chain of custody post-election tabulation audits other security measures you know and that's really with a question like that i think relying on those procedures and compensating controls you know is probably a sound way to look at something like that i mean you know dan said you know yeah the evidence it's not there but there's also a lot of controls that are in place to mitigate that kind of risk so what last question sorry we can't get to all these cards but and just yes or no can the electorate trust our voting systems mona i'd say yes absolutely with all the compensating controls that i just went through i would say absolutely yes tracy i think that no system is foolproof but i think that with procedures compensating controls all of the testing that's done prior to a voting system being put into an election yes then i think i'm going to agree the answer is yes but and the but is not too bad so yes so none of you uh actually abided by my instructions which was just a yes or no but i want to say thank you to this panel for i know a lot was in depth in detail uh thank you to all of you for participating and providing us your remarks so thank you we have a 15-minute break so i'll be back at three o'clock if i could encourage you all to uh get to your find your seats again we're gonna restart momentarily thank you that's on you all right well welcome back i hate to interrupt people's break and i know a lot of great conversations happening around i know it's a little later in the afternoon for those of us still on east coast time it's a lot later in the afternoon for those of you live streaming from the east coast feel free to make this a happy hour you know i normally like to start with a joke but i left that on east coast time so we'll just jump jump right into it and it seems you know it seems so appropriate to follow the security and technology uh panel by talking about uh a conversation about grants and funding and elections of course you know we can have great technology we can have so many of these processes and procedures but it takes investment hava or the help america vote act marked the first time we'd seen a federal investment in election administration and that funding helped to modernize elections and led to the adoption of new voting technologies across the country this also led to numerous innovations in how we conduct elections and the options available for voters to engage in the process hava required the development of statewide voter registration databases and with states like arizona and washington leading the way now much of the country uses online voter registration similarly at the beginnings of colorado's efforts to pioneer risk limiting audits there are java dollars helping to support that program as was mentioned in the last panel we now see a number of states adopting risk limiting audits and pilot programs popping up around the country these examples and many more highlight the potential impact of federal funding that was one of the many reasons it was great to see congress appropriating election security funds again in 2018 for the first time in several years congress responded to the foreign interference in 2016 by appropriating 880 million in grant funding for state and local election offices to improve election security that was 380 million dollars appropriated in 2018 425 million dollars in 2020 and 75 million dollars earlier this year congress used that money to supplement state and local funding for election security and what we saw was that this money across the country was utilized in different ways with each state running elections in its own unique way they had different needs and so we saw some states replacing paperless voting equipment others replacing statewide voter registration databases are hardening those systems we saw countless hours of training across the country and innovations like cyber navigators where you have state-based cyber professionals that are able to help regionally as was talked about earlier with some of the smaller jurisdictions many of them don't have the resources or need for a full-time cyber professional and so places like illinois illinois pioneered cyber navigator programs to address that need congress also provided 400 million dollars of critical funding during the 2020 primary election season as the covid pandemic threaten the basic functions of our democratic system and while this support has had a significant impact on the security of elections we do consistently hear about the need for regular sustained funding that would assist in long-term planning the nature of the threats that the elections community is facing are those that demand long-term investment in the infrastructure of our democracy and while this panel is primarily focused on election funding and the need to invest in the system to ensure its lasting success we must never forget the most important element of our democracy and that is its people the women and men across this country that serve as local election administrators have done heroic work in recent years they put their own personal health and safety on the line to administer the election during 2020 they repeatedly rise to the occasion and meet challenge after challenge they consistently do more with less and remarkably continue to get the job done it's an honor and a privilege to call these people my colleagues and so many my friends that said election officials cannot do it alone and should not be expected to do so is been talked about before this really has to be a whole of government approach a whole of society approach to looking at the health of our democracy and investing in it in the way that it deserves to be and it's not just about grants that is certainly a big piece but there are other ways to support election officials as we heard about earlier since the designation of elections is critical infrastructure our federal partners at cisa have helped provide expertise and access to resources to help defend against cyber and physical intrusions to election networks and offices additionally i'm so proud of the eac's increased build out of our clearinghouse function to provide additional best practice resources for our state and local officials the addition of a team of former election officials and subject matter experts able to create products that are responsive to the needs of election officials around the country is needed now more than ever this team and the resources they produce are in a direct result of the recent increases in the eac's funding but so much more can and must be done to support the increasing challenge our democracy faces while we have returned from a low in 2019 of a 7.95 million dollar operating budget uh we are only now even with the increases we've seen the eac as at a level that we were at in 2010 when you adjust for inflation that was before the foreign interference of 2016 before the big lie and the fallout of the miss and disinformation that we've seen following the 2020 election and when i travel across the country and talk with election officials i see a community that needs support needs help and needs resources and in order to do that we have got to be adequately funded and so as we have this conversation 68 days before the 2022 midterm election i believe the job of administering our elections has never been harder and it's never been more expensive and so on that note we've got a lot to talk about and i'm looking forward to hearing from our panel as we begin with opening remarks from our panelists i'd like to introduce our events from our events host state susan lapsley the california deputy secretary of state and harvard director and council ms lapsley i'll turn it over to you for opening remarks thank you so much commissioner i'd like to also thank you thank the pepperdine public policy school school and specifically dean peterson i think we've lost him i can't see with the bright lights but thank you for being such a great host and then also to the eac and the eic commissioners thank you for all the work that you guys do you really do a lot of work that people don't see and don't and don't understand coming from a state that has a lot of interaction with with all of you appreciate it and really applaud the work that you do i was sitting in the very back and i couldn't see when there was an introduction by chairman hicks of the students so i couldn't see hands i'm going to lean on you students can you stand up please come on come on stand up you're not the only one there's other there's other students are you the only one left oh well let me ask you a question let me ask you a question so have you ever seen a butterfly ballot [Laughter] a butterfly ballad is like a butterfly it's open like this and it has uh it's separated so it's like literally like butterfly two pages yes okay you've seen one in in real life well there we go how about uh a punch card ballot okay so you know back in 2000 we were all riveted on the edge of our seats watching television because the internet was it was the internet was there but it wasn't you didn't have tick tock showing you with everything and youtube showing you everything we were riveted learning about butterfly ballots and punch card ballots and hanging chads and it was a real learning experience for everyone for the nation as a whole because people didn't really pay attention to elections or election administration and that's what that election did it focused attention laser focused on it and it got us arguing and talking around the dinner table about hanging chads and what local registrar did this and did that and and really engaged and identified issues around the election administration and so when i was asked to be on the pal on this panel i got to thinking way back then about that experience and i think many of the panels have said that election administration finds you you don't choose it i i did not choose it either i was a law clerk to a federal judge and i was asked i was finishing up my law clerk my clerkship and i was asked by the then nevada secretary of state to come and be his elections director um i had just gone through watching that i was like wow that sounds looks really exciting looks like really exciting looks really controversial i don't know i did it and it was the best decision of my life because election administration chooses you and once you're in it you love either you love it or you hate it um many of my those that work with me we have that conversation of either you love it and you stay in it or you're like this is too much for me i'm out and and you don't do it anymore um but that's what 2000 did and it crystallized a lot of the issues and hava intended to solve those issues and those issues at the time were trust and confidence in the elections process modernization of our election process accessibility to our election process and funding so here we are 22 years later after hava the passage of java and as i thought about this panel before we really decided it was going to be really about funding thought about those issues and and what java was intended to do um it did solve a lot of those issues um it but we've come full circle or maybe those issues are never going to leave us as election administrations the election administrators they will be ongoing because as we sit here 20 years later and really 22 years later since the 20 2000 election we still have an as an issue trust and confidence in our system and you guys heard about that during the first panel and now it's around miss and dis and mal information there's also modernization is still an issue back then it was about having a new voting system replacing punch cards replacing the butterfly ballot and also voter registration having statewide state-run voter registration systems having clear and consistent data across the state and potential you know across the united states um so that was that was then nowadays we still have monetization as an issue so a lot of the voting technology that was bought was bought back in after the after the passage of hava and that has created issues for other jurisdictions not california california is an exception to this and i i we can talk more about california but as a nation we are finding that states don't have the money to replace those systems and so here we are 20 years later and systems you can't find parts for them they're no longer there's there's platforms that aren't serviceable anymore there's issues with the technology and states need to replace the technology um voter registration system so have a mandate mandated statewide voter registration system so states went ahead and they either built it or modified their systems california has a distinction of being the last in the country to have a have a compliance state white voter registration system it's not a a badge it's a badge actually it's a process getting there but we our system is modern and current and very new and it's i'd like to joke it's kind of a preteen right now as far as a system goes but other states they have systems that are 10 15 years old that need to be they need to have voter registration 2.0 so there needs to be the funding and we'll get to that that's the next issue funding of it to replace those systems or to upgrade those systems to make sure that they can meet the needs of today um and hand in hand with modernization i think is security and we've talked a lot about security in the last panel it's great to have that conversation at security was an issue back in 20 2000 but it's also an issue now 20 years later 22 years later that we still talk about because the technology has changed security needs have changed the the designation as critical infrastructure has changed the dialogue but it's still an issue that we face in election administration and accessibility tracy i think talked quite a bit about accessibility accessibility back during the passage of hava was about accessibility you go to the polling place you show up the machine should be on it should be accessible for you to use and the poll workers should know how to use it accessibility now is still an issue but it's a different conversation it's about the other technologies it's about getting into the polling place and making sure that i if i have mobility issues that i can actually get into the location to use that system that is accessible to me and emerging issues i think deek will talk about this not to steal your thunder but probably talk about this in the next pedal about vote by mail accessibility so if i'm a blind voter having a vote by mail belt it's not accessible to me if it's if i have to mark it with a pen and paper so technology and accessibility have changed and the dialogue has changed as we go into it and the final thing is funding so i back then it was oh we have all these changes who's going to pay for this you want a statewide voter registration database who's going to pay for it you're going to get rid of punch cards who's going to pay for it which is a great conversation and need to have that but elections need to be funded ongoing in a consistent amount by the state local and federal government you have to have a whole of government approach everyone needs to be committed to it and it can't be once every 20 years you can't wait until your voting systems are using duct tape and and band-aids to keep it together right you can't wait until your voter registration system is on its last leg and the servers no longer are operable and secure and you you have to have ongoing funding at a rate that is sufficient to actually get it done you can't just have little bits here little bits there it's got to be ongoing and consistent to make it make sure that it really is impactful and that we as election administrators and those that are care about our democracy have comfort and knowledge that that it will be done the right way so thank you thank you for that we're going to continue in alphabetical order so we'll skip over and i will uh wow got to recognize our state partners first uh so i'd also like to welcome joel watson from the louisiana secretary of state's office mr watson serves as the deputy secretary of state for outreach services mr watson i'll turn it over to you for opening comments thank you and good afternoon to everybody secretary artwin regrets that he was he had to miss this event in person and after i show him the pictures i've taken and describe the weather to him i'm sure he'll be especially remorseful the help america vote acts funding mechanism has helped louisiana during three critical moments in the past 20 years the replacement of lever voting machines in the earliest days of java the onset of the covet 19 pandemic mixed with our post-hurricane recovery and our current move to a new paper-based voting system to start in the fall of 2006 louisiana fully implemented the voting system we currently employ finally moving away from the lever voting machines to direct record electronic machines this process began in 1990 with 12 parishes over the next 15 years using these dres and in 2005 using java dollars the process to procure this system for the remaining 52 parishes began in 2020 louisiana was one of the hardest hit states during covet 19 and the issues that stemmed from it such as the ongoing supply chain crisis were exacerbated further by hurricanes laura delta and zeta the last of which hit just six days prior to the presidential election securing masks hand sanitizer plexiglas dividers and other personal protective equipment was hard enough when 93 of our state's electorate chose to vote in person but add to that our need to purchase things like tents for places where buildings had been destroyed or were not suitable for voting and the post coveted cares act funding via hava was a huge help the 6.2 million dollars we received in emergency hava funds through the cares act in 2020 mainly went toward hazard pay for election commissioners which helped ensure that we were not severely short staffed especially in the hardest hit areas of our state and it also helped with the acquisition of an emergency voting solution known as a biz box which is a temporary movable voting site that takes sanitary precautions into account while also being useful in the aftermath of storms where there is no polling site available additionally additionally louisiana is in the midst of securing a new voting system because we are one of if not the last state to still use dres statewide however the process to transition to a paper-based voting system is underway and louisiana has nearly 14 million in hava grant dollars in a fund that will go towards the purchase of new equipment along with investments by our state legislature we have 30 million dollars dedicated towards that effort now with that said java is not perfect secretary arduin believes one of the greatest challenges we face with java going forward from an election administration standpoint is the desire by some in washington to use harvest funding mechanism to force states to alter their election policies and procedures we saw this during the earliest days of covid in 2020 changing our election laws for more federal money is not a trade-off we are willing to accept in louisiana and one that we hope politicians in washington do not resort to as a means to an end thanks again for having me and i'm looking forward to our discussion thank you and our final panelist for this discussion is matthew weil the executive director of the democracy program at the bipartisan policy center matthew i'll let you give a few brief remarks great uh well thank you commissioner hovland and and thank you to the eac and to pepperdine for inviting me to be here today um when i'm on a panel and i'm introduced as the executive director of the democracy program at the bipartisan policy center i think it's always best to start with what the bipartisan policy center is um because that's it seems like an oxymoron you know dc based group that's that's focused on bipartisanship so bpc is a dc based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties that promote the health security and opportunity for all americans bpc has been around for about 15 years we focus on many federal policy issues but for the past 10 years we have branched out to focus on the i think the most important issue which is mostly a state level issue which is elections um and i've been working i've been leaving that work for the past 10 years i should note we were founded by four former senate majority leaders uh senators daschle dole mitchell and baker and we do come out at every issue not with the solution in mind but but making sure we have organic bipartisanship in the groups that we can we assemble to think about policy issues um when commissioner javelina asked me to be on this panel i i i could talk about anything for a really long time ben knows that but um i wanted to put at least three items on the on the table first and happy to expand upon any of them or anything else that um comes up during the q a i should also know i think we now have two students in the room um and so for you to review bpc also has um internships they are paid internships and we have them in the fall spring and summer for all of the pepperdine students that are watching on the on the webcast um contact me all right so one of the three issues that i think are most important today to discuss one it's been brought up in many ways throughout the day but i think it's important to put a finer point on it is the irregularity and the unpredictability of federal funding so i'll talk about that first the second one is what are the outside the box ways of fixing that problem because the way the federal budgeting federal appropriation process works it's hard to commit federal funding for long periods of time the third one that i want to talk about is the trend away from outside funding and what that might mean for states and some of the unpredictable or the unexpected consequences of moving away from outside funding so on the first one on the irregularity of federal funding in my perspective in the perspective of bpc that leads to money being spent somewhat ineffectively and certainly and efficiently so i certainly agree that the states you'll have primary responsibility for elections um and certainly elections have become a lot more complex i think what we've seen over the past five years though is also much more interest in not just elections and in the kind of the political horse race but many more americans actually have a perspective and an opinion about how americans vote about the entire process itself and certainly when one you know even small jurisdiction has an issue um that can become a national scandal that undermines confidence in elections everywhere and it's very clear that the level of funding that has been made available at the local level has not expanded relative to the increased complexity a lot of the problems that do happen you know not everyone but every you know some some of these problems could have been prevented if election officials have more resources so it's been noted you know throughout the day that five billion dollars has been appropriated for elections since java pass which is great it's a big number although we have to remember that the vast majority of that almost three billion uh it's been a half billion came in the first couple of years after havoc was passed um and that there were no funds appropriated between 2010 and 2018.
So we've had large gaps um what we've had in 2018 2020 and 2022 are these you know so-called air drops of money when when election officials in the states and the counties can't necessarily expect it um it may seem to kind of the outside observer that funding coming in in 1820 and 22 is somewhat regular um i posit that that's more of a coincidence than any kind of plan congress had actually i'd say congress had no plan at all when they did this and most election officials had no idea the money was coming until they read the bill that came out in the middle of the night so they couldn't plan for it at all the fact that it's also come in federal election years i would argue is a negative for federal funding we could talk about that about why that might be um or is it maintain the maintenance of more federal funding coming down the pike um the reason i say that is because you know as we heard when federal funding is is appropriated there are typically strings attached a lot of the funding that has been appropriate the past couple years didn't really have very many policy strings but there's still expectations when you talk to members and staff on the hill they expect the money is going to be spent very quickly um and and actually mitigate any challenges that election officials might be having for the upcoming federal elections you know for many reasons money that's appropriated in the federal election year isn't going to have much of an impact on that upcoming federal election but because of the expectations that the members of congress and their staff might have about federal funding um it ends up being a feedback loop of evidence why federal funding isn't very effective because it's not it's not fixing the problems right away and that's never that's never how federal funding is going to work so bpc put out a report um in may and i should have updated the numbers i'm about to tell you so don't take them as the most updated about some of the delicious security grants that were um appropriated in 2018 and 2020.
84 of the of the 2018 funds have been spent and 23 of the 2020 funds have been spent so there's still um a lot to go so i guess the question is why has it been so slow you know i would argue that the in a weird way the the lack of regularity of funding actually encourages states and counties to spend more slowly because they don't know when the next money the extraction money is coming i'd also argue that it's pretty inefficient if you talk to election officials on the ground most of what they need is more staff more experts cyber security but just for every part of the election process that is much more complex but most government at every level cannot hire if they can't find longer term reliable funding to maintain that that new hire states also submit to the eac dtl plans for how they're going to spend that money uh when when those dollars are to come to the states and if you read those those proposals which i've done but also grace who's on my my staff has about all of them you'll see that states have big plans for what they're going to do with this funding it's it's to completely change their voter registration systems or to buy new uh systems for the entire state as as much funding as has happened in the past four years we've heard that's 1.3 billion dollars it's a big country and that doesn't go as far as people might realize you know in 2022 california is getting what about 5 million of the 75 million dollars california is a pretty big state that's not going to have a huge impact if california wanted to spend money to replace all the voting systems and so the states and the localities are incentivized to hold on to that money to build up some reserves over time so they can buy those big capital expenditures there are legislative barriers in some cases to the federal funding you know in many states the the state legislature has to act um either to accept the funding or to approve big expenditures and that takes time as well and there are matching funds requirements um for the federal funding it used to be five percent the more recent tranches of airdrop money have 20 matches the eac has kind of bent over backwards to to make as much count for that match as possible but states have to deal with that matching requirement um also from the report that i mentioned we estimate that it can take three to four months simply from the the signing of the appropriations bill into law to the first dollar hitting the state so just to go back to the point money that's appropriated in april um or may of a federal election year is not getting to states until the summer or later it's not impacting that election all right i want to move on to the second one because i think that my short remarks are going far too long wait that was just your first one sorry sorry i'll be really quick the next ones are really much much easier i want to i want to put out there on the table an alternative way of thinking about how to how to do federal funding reliably and consistently because that's that's the word we've heard a lot today um certainly right now congress is evenly divided and election funding is polarized and difficult which means that you know every time the the congress does agree to do state grants um you have to pass a new law for that you know what if i told you that there was a huge pot of money sitting in the government um that's replenishable and being mostly unused right now and i'm not here to tell you that there is that that part of money that i think that could be repurposed to create some reliable funding for elections you know if you think about elections beyond election administration anything about campaign finance um there's something called the presidential election campaign fund this was the the checkoff box um it used to be one dollar and two dollars for a single or a joint federal return now it's 3.06 that was meant to provide public funding for presidential campaigns um it was very popular in the 1970s after kind of the watergate scandal and many of the issues back then it still exists but no presidential candidate has accessed it for a federal general election since 2008.
There's actually 412 million dollars in that in that fund and people still check the box i still check the box on my federal tax return to send money into that fund i think that fund can be repurposed fairly easily and become a reliable source of federal funding that can be block granted to states on a reliable um method either every odd number year so it's not happening in a in a federal year or even every year i'm happy to talk about that a little bit more as well and finally i'll talk about the trend away from outside resources you know the i think congress did move and the senators this morning talked about the ability to move during the cares act relatively rapidly um when the pandemic hit i think what was glossed over was the fact that the 400 million dollars they provided while essential wasn't sufficient and that well over 400 in outside funds were also sent to you know republican jurisdictions democratic jurisdictions to maintain the elections process in 2020 and if you talk to election officials especially the ones in the thousands of them that receive this money if they had not gotten that funding in many cases we would have seen meltdowns in many other places and i think that would have been very very very bad for confidence in our our system i'll start by saying first of all that i do not think outside funding for elections is a good thing this is a rich country and governmental function should be covered by the government but taking away the capacity which is what a lot of states have done in the past two years for election officials to accept outside funding and not replacing it with more public funding is a recipe for disaster because even though it was very high profile in 2020 it wasn't new in 2020.
it's been going on for years and so i think there needs to be a real conversation about if we're not going to allow election officials to get free resources from the many groups out there that try to provide resources in a bipartisan way are we going to allow them to pay for those those resources with government funds if that's what that's the preference for the policy so those are the three things i think are vital right now to talk about because they're going to impact how elections are running this country for for a long time and i i yield back my the rest of my time well thank you for that and so now we'll jump into some questions uh actually it was a good tee up for for the first question i had wanted to ask i mentioned in my opening remarks uh that each state has utilized uh or made plans to utilize uh its hover security funding in different ways and so i was hoping that uh to start us off miss lapsley could talk about how california has spent some of that money what the impact has been here uh and then uh mr watson i know you hit a little bit uh on that in your opening remarks but again i think it's worth highlighting uh that that while we often hear about the money not being spent as mr weil alluded to in fact in louisiana's case that is all uh you know the check is check's been written so uh would love uh miss lapsa if you could start us off and tell us a little bit how california has used that funding yeah so as matt had mentioned so california is the largest jurisdiction has received the bulk of the funding um across the year across the years and california's in a little different situation than situation than most states as far as being able to have the match be able to have the resources additional state resources to add to that so um in california for those who don't know we have a very it's a wide spectrum of counties so we on the one hand we have alpine county which has seven or 900 registered voters and then you have la county which has 5.6 million registered voters which is the largest voting jurisdiction in the country so you take that and that's that's a big spectrum um and we as a state have provided the bulk of the money all the money that not all the money but the bulk of the money that we've received from both habba and the state to the counties because they are the ones that are administering the elections they're the ones that are boots on the ground they're the ones that are they're putting in the work they're the ones who have to make these changes um so the funding has that first the original amount obviously went to voting system replacement it also went to statewide voter registration database subsequent to that the security funds we have also used for contracts so in california let's go to timing let me just address your timing in california and we might be the the exception we get the money once it's appropriated at the federal level we then have to we get to receive it and we also have to go to the legislature to ask for approval of it so in california our legislative approval process is a year and a half out so we need to go to the legislature and say hey legislature we need authority to be able to spend this money and the legislature has to vote on it give us the approval for it we then in california we don't just cut checks to dean and cami and you know our our election officials or connie used to be connie when that first money came out we do reimbursement based contracts because of accountability and and requirements within hava and auditing we do reimbursement based contracts so we go through that whole process then we have to do contracts with the counties before those counties can then spend the money and then ask for reimbursement back so that's a long process but counties have that to be able to use for certain purposes and we we have contracts in place that have identified those purposes touched on the first one the election security ones were we used for election security we laid out uh provisions for that and one of the some the requirements of them of those contracts were that that counties did um social engineering training which is huge from a security standpoint that they do penetration testing on a regular basis and then there's other things that they can ask for unfortunately those security funds five million dollars isn't a whole heck of a lot as you said in california um penetration testing costs a lot it doesn't matter if you're small a very small alpine jurisdiction or if you're los angeles county it's going to cost a lot and there needs to be sufficient resources to do that on a regular basis you can't just do a penetration test once and call it good okay we checked that box um and then the karazhak funding was obviously huge again the majority of that that funding went to the the counties for them to um for staffing for ppe for pulling location requirements and that funding was really a game changer for us as a state even though we did have resources um it still was a game changer for us so that's how it's really i think helped our counties and at the state level we we use a portion of it but i think the real impact is at the county and local election official thank you and and mr watson as i turn to you actually i think there's a nice contrast for folks who who don't know about some of the diversity in the way elections are funded across the country uh louisiana uh or with california here uh you know very much uh many of the costs are borne out at the local level uh if you could talk a little bit about how and what is funded at the state level in louisiana that would be helpful as well sure so louisiana is a top-down state so our election policies and procedures are uniform across the state and the system we use is also uniform across the state so unlike several states where you might have a different vendor or different type of voting machine or system in one county than the next every parish in louisiana has the same type of voting machine the same vendor everything and currently we've got 14 million dollars or approximately 14 million dollars in the help louisiana vote fund that is going to go towards a new voting system here in the future we also have about 15 million dollars in investments our state legislature has made in addition to self-generated revenue and in the nearly two million dollar state match that we're required to have and it seems like deja vu all over again because in the initial days of java we got this money to upgrade an old voting machine system after a contentious election and here we are again about to be at the 20th anniversary of hava and we see ourselves having to upgrade a system that is now considered outdated after a contentious election so when we did that initially in the mid 2000s we had dres being used in 12 parishes across the state with the rest of the state using these lever voting machines the hava funds in 2005 helped us to upgrade our machines across the state to what was then considered modern technology for voting going past the lever and punch card type of systems that were used previously and we're looking to do that again to a paper-based system because we know that dres are considered outdated because voters demand the confidence in their elections and that includes having a paper back up to ensure that the vote they they cast is the one that's the one that counts uh so that they can actually see their vote being counted there um and so uh and we also used the initial java funding to as was said earlier to upgrade some of our other infrastructure nearly 8 million dollars worth of upgrades across the state software and hardware that needs to be upgraded bringing our voter registration system into the 21st century and also going towards our aaron system which is the electronic registration and information network which is created uh for and by louisiana and it's the central nervous system of our elections that's a critical aspect of how our elections are run today and that is in its modern form because of the initial funding we got from the earliest days of java thank you for that and uh matt you mentioned in your opening remarks a little bit about this but i don't know if you want to touch on either out of out of bpc's report uh or any of the other sort of spending you saw across the country or themes that stood out and if not we can skip to the next one i mean it's exactly what you'd expect right i mean the the funding that happened in 18 and 20 not not the cares funding the care funding was very specific right the care spending had to be spent very quickly within eight months that had to be spent in the calendar year of 2020.
So it was intended to be mostly ppe and voting during a pandemic what i'll say is the funding that i referenced earlier the outside funding actually allowed jurisdictions to buy some of the the bigger purchases like you know uh high-speed tabulators for the increase of mainland ballots that was going to happen and that federal funding wasn't going to be sufficient for um but the i think the the themes have been very clear they you want the cyber navigators you want to do the things that are um they're gonna help security for sure and then there are some states that are clearly sitting on on some of the money for the the capital expenditures i mean i'll note we're in 2022 and so that at first toronto money came in 2002 or 2003 um when it's finally appropriated there are 12 of the original java funds that haven't been spent yet so states states have a long history now of of saving some of this money um for for larger capital expenditures because they don't know when the next next tranche is coming well and that is a great lead in to uh you know a conversation about you know again this was hit in the opening remarks but about the importance of federal funding uh and irregular federal funding and how this can benefit uh states and and sort of you know maybe we'll start on the end with mr watson and just come this way uh you know again the impact that that federal funding stream would mean for planning etc well of course we support a consistent stream of federal funding for our elections again i'll reiterate with the caveat that the federal government isn't dictating to us specific policies and procedures we have to change to get that money they attempted to do that at one point and that's something that we don't support because every state is different the needs in louisiana currently are we need a new voting system that is more modern and that gives voters the confidence that they deserve california's needs are going to be different than louisiana's needs every state has different needs but it would give us the consistency that we need to properly run elections and i'll also say this there are election or there are grants that are given to certain federal agencies and those federal agencies will give grants to their state counterparts and they will tell their state counterparts you've got to give x number of dollars or a certain percentage of this money we're giving to you towards election-based spending well the problem that presents itself then is we often don't see that money there have been grants that the department of justice has given out that the dhs has given out and they go to our state counterparts and then we don't see that money that we need to effectively secure and run our elections and so there is currently a bill in congress that would make the eac the sole provider of election grant money to the states and that's a policy we support so yes there needs to be consistent funding but we also need to consider who's giving the money out and it needs to be the eac because they are the experts in this field we also struggle with hurricanes in the fall every year and the last two statewide elections we have seen devastating and costly storms and we have had to spend a lot of money to make sure that these elections can be successfully executed i know we're not the only state that deals with natural disasters in the fall so there are plenty of other states that this kind of consistent funding stream would help to ensure that even if a storm comes through the week before the election as is what happened in louisiana in 2020 the election can be successfully executed and in fact we did it in 2020 with one of the highest voter turnouts in state history thank you matt well you positioned me in between two state election officials so i i don't know that was was on purpose or not just because i can both kick you exactly so i'm going to advocate for the local election officials i think consistent federal funding would would likely make it more possible uh more likely for the funding to actually get to the local level now that may be happening in california it may be happening in louisiana but there are many states where if you talk to local election officials they haven't really seen much if at all if any at all of the federal funding that's happened and if we think that some of the greatest risks are in in actual administration of elections getting that money to the lowest level the way the boots are on the ground i think is is pretty vital and so i think you would see local election officials using that to bolster the ranks of their actual staff um and maybe even using that money for higher poll worker pay to make sure they have enough poll workers it's actual bodies that they need and that can only really happen um if either the states are going to put in the money um or if the federal government's going to put in the money because i'll tell you at the local level when you have election officials competing with fire schools police they're going to lose every time and so the money has to come from somebody somewhere else i will just interject there for those of you that don't read federal appropriations bills which i hope is most of you they're they're a treat um there has been the last few years in the house appropriation language that talks about having 50 percent of of funding or election security funding be sent to the locals in cash or in kind and i will say you know i think that this panel highlights the importance of that flexibility of the language where you have a louisiana at the state paying poll workers in parishes you know that is that is the top-down bottom-up variations across the country really demand that flexibility uh but but certainly that is something that has been out there but not adopted let's just mention one more thing um because you mentioned the the language i also think that if there was going to be more reliable funding that was coming there would need to be language in that federal appropriation bill about a maintenance of effort at the state level i don't think what anyone who's talking about the federal government allocating or appropriating more federal funding the intent is to replace the state or the counties from from providing the funds so finding a way to make sure that that's not not happening i think is pretty vital i just would dovetail on what jules said the he said every state has different needs right if you're top down bottom up um whatever we have 58 counties i can't remember 64 parishes um a state of 22 million registered voters versus three million voters the fundamental though is every state has needs and the federal funding and it has to be a whole of government it can't just be the federal government paying for everything it needs to be local and state and federal will allow election administrators to plan at the at the heart of every election administrator they're planners they used to be wedding planners not to to minimize what they did right they were they used to plan for one day and hope then do everything that they could to make sure that day was successful and and awesome now in california it's more like 60 days it's it's that event is no longer just on one day it's 60 days and then the 30 days after for the canvas it's a long period and regular funding will allow them to plan plan accordingly and plan the right way thank you um you know in the earlier panels uh we talked about vvsg 2.0 obviously we're very excited that that that was adopted and we're looking forward to implementation as sneak preview you heard a lab is soon to be hopefully certified to that standard and and we're hopeful that we'll see manufacturers bring systems into that you know but certainly we never saw that to vvsg 1.1 i was hoping that you all could comment about the potential for federal funding to influence the adoption of vbsg 2.0 in these new systems what reverse alpha alpha quarter yes okay great um so i'll take this one first um i'll say if you want the states and the localities to actually buy the systems there's probably going to be some federal funding for that i mean systems don't have to get replaced that often but this is this is maybe the major capital expense that election officials will have to deal with and so certainly you know when these new systems are getting certified that's going to be great but you know without some sort of sustained funding i don't think we're going to see them anytime soon actually in front of voters i mean i'll just for those who so california doesn't we don't use the eac standards we have our own standards they're they meter exceed the federal standards we've had them since 2014.
We're actually starting the process to revise it's called california voting system standards and that's what we use to test and review our voting system standards again for those who don't know in california we do comprehensive testing which includes penetration testing red team testing open-ended vulnerability testing source code review accessibility testing usability testing hardware testing functional testing and i feel like i'm missing one i think i covered all of them so we have those standards great to see the eec getting to the 2.0 level and we ourselves are going to be moving to that next level as well and and we're going to be going through the process to see what ours look like but i think it's important that those standards are there so that it takes a while the life cycle of them of systems are you guys have written those standards but now you have to test your labs and get your labs certified now you have to have vendors that can bring in a system they have to know what rules they're building to and then they build to them and then they bring them in and then they buy them so that life cycle is much longer than just having rules in place and yeah check the box here's your product so excited to see it for you guys looking forward to our process in california as well i think as it relates to our search for a new voting system in louisiana we have a challenge and then we also have potential the challenge we face is the timing because we're currently going through the process in 2021 the legislature somewhat altered how we procure a new voting system they created this bipartisan 13-member committee called the louisiana voting system commission that commission has completed its work and they've made their recommendation the law then requires our office to promulgate standards for the next system then requires us to craft the request for proposals go out for bid all of that the bids come back in after they go through the current procurement code then another commission will then score the bids that have come in and then they'll make a recommendation and then we'll go forward with all the other work that needs to be done including a pilot program and then statewide implementation of a voting system it's a lot of complicated work the problem we face is the timing because there are currently no vendors that re that meet the 2.0 standards and the labs aren't ready yet either although they hopefully are coming on soon uh but even if they were to come on in the next month is there a vendor out there that can meet those standards and is there only one because if there's only one then we have a problem with accusations of bid rigging and that sort of thing so there needs to be not just the labs coming online but the vendors getting up to those standards and for us that's a challenge however the the potential we have is that since we are going to be purchasing a system for all 64 of our parishes for all three million plus of our registered voters secretary arduin has been trying to use that to pressure the vendors to say this needs to happen sooner you need to be moving along to make sure we're getting to those standards because we can't just you know wait around another decade to purchase a new voting system in louisiana thank you for that and you know obviously we've been talking a lot about grants uh but as i mentioned uh in my opening uh you know the federal government is able to provide resources other than grants uh of course the eac hava created the ac to be a clearing house of best practices in administration and charges with uh the eac with the development of a national program for testing and certification of voting equipment that we were just talking about when you think about these you know 50 state issues 40 45 state issues etc can you talk about the potential impact such support programs can have and particularly now in the light of the many challenges that the election community is facing i mean we'll start with mr watson and then come down well the the legislation i mentioned that's currently been introduced in the congress uh would not only keep those those clearinghouse functions of the eac in place but also add to it things like a forum for state best practices permitting states to use unused java dollars to implement voluntary considerations like post-election audits and having the commission develop voluntary guidelines for non-voting equipment like e-poll books and all that's great and those are some of the things we need especially again because the eac the those are where the experts in this field are but they're of course going to need more funding to do that sort of thing to hire more experts into to to get that process moving i'll say something else as it relates to the testing and certification functions of the eac i think it's important to note that there needs to be better communication between federal agencies like dhs like cisa like the doj places like that that that deal on some level with election issues and the eac itself there needs to be a better communication there because if there's not then those agencies are allowing people to call into question the testing and certification that the eac does and that's not fair to them that's not fair to us in the state election field uh because then they're saying well the machines you're using uh yeah they were tested but they they didn't disclose they didn't find this that and the other and so therefore we can't trust them and then we have to deal with that so these agencies need to do a better job of communicating with the eac in the future thank you for that matt well full disclosure i should say that i am a former eac employee so i do think that um i i've always thought the aac um is valuable and and could be more valuable but they're they're certainly constrained by the resources they have i'll also say that when i was at the eac from 2008 to 2011 we never had a conference at quite such a gorgeous venue so i think i was there at the wrong time i do think the eac can have more value but have more resources for sure right one is research we want policy to be developed based on evidence and and it's hard but it's frustrating i would think because at their core i mean elections are full of data i mean they're nothing but data that but for the most part they're not that data doesn't use to make good policy you know how and where are americans voting um you know are they are they moving away from a traditional polling place can there be benefits to moving to more vote center model how to do that wisely that evidence needs to be clear and i think you want somebody collecting it from a national perspective and providing that data out for the public to think about um and i think that what eac has done with the election management guidelines and the quick start guides is great and it could be far better the election officials at the local level well we're seeing certainly a very highly high rate of turnover right now but i i do think that that's not uncommon you know there's always a lot of turnover in this field and so you have a lot of election officials who are new who their next election is going to be their first election and you know certainly having some some baseline guides to get them up to speed on all or at least many of the things that they that are consistent across states would be very helpful so those are two things that i think are beyond the technology for sure the coordination for sure that eac could do a lot more of if it could maintain a higher level of resources thank you susan yeah i i think that what both joel and matt hit on are absolutely correct i think i would just add to that that the quick start guides are great they can be a lot better for those states that don't have the resources to generate those kind of things those are great tools templates for them to follow to to be able to plagiarize those and use those to get information out to voters because when you start talking about elections it's it's tough a lot of times there's a lot of details that go into it and election administrators sometimes get stuck in the weeds and being able to explain all the different pieces is really tough so i think if the ac can really find plain language to provide to for for states to use i think that can be a huge tool um training i know that election center has done training for many years but i think eac can take a leading role in that to be able to train election officials whether new or old we all learn i learn every day um on election administration on emergency technologies what all those things that we have in in the election sphere to be able to train those officials in a forum where that's it's good training it's comprehensive training and it's clear training thank you for that i've got one more but if anybody's got uh cards and we can go ahead and pick those up and so my last question i'll just this is also going to be a preview for the final panel of the afternoon but uh you know we've been the final panel is is the future uh of elections and so i wanted to have my last question be about the the fun the future of election funding and i'll note that the election infrastructure sector specific plan uh which is part of the the outgrowth of the critical infrastructure designation uh starts out the there's a funding section that says it's impossible to make an honest assessment of the election infrastructure sub-sectors risk and the potential to mitigate that risk without an understanding of the chronic resource issues the sub-sector faces at all levels of government so recognizing that and thinking about funding we've hit on some of this but but what are some of those key considerations for election funding as we move forward to the future susan we'll start with you and go down so the few i would hope that the future of java funding is i hate to beat the dead horse but it that it's consistent and it's substantial enough to allow election administrators to do their job and to do it do it effectively um and i think there does need to be some some flexibility built into it for emergencies so right now for those of you who haven't been to this area there's and i'm going to mispronounce this because the castaic fire um that is burning and they're having evacuations that's the reality of election officials you guys had the storm you have to you can't postpone election day you can't postpone the election not even the pandemic postpone the election um other than west virginia the show must go on and there needs to be funding to allow those jurisdictions are impacted by natural disasters to potentially use the hava funding to be able to administer their elections in the face of wildfire that's burning down the you know homes and people are having to evacuate and go someplace else so that would be my hope for the future for funding matt yeah i think my hope is that it gets out of the cycle of we only fund um in a substantial way after a crisis or after something melts down that's it's not a really good way to do this if i could wave a wand i i'd like my idea which is to repurpose the presidential issue campaign fund to find a mandatory source of funding because election funding is likely going to stay a political question for a long time and leaving it into the in the discretionary budget is difficult and and again you've talked to any election official they're talking about consistency you really can't get that without completely changing how election funding has happened over the past 20 years the federal level so i think we need to talk about and i'm not saying that's the only idea but i think that there are ways of doing this that have to be explored and currently aren't really being talked about in a real way at the federal level i was counting how many of the past few years we've had a statewide election and i there could have been more before this but i know that at least since 2014 we've had a statewide election every single year in louisiana senate governor presidential special elections that sort of thing every single year since 2014 through 2024 where we will have had a statewide election so a consistent stream of federal dollars would be a huge asset to us it would be a huge asset because we are constantly in need of finding ways to ensure that we can pull off these elections in the midst of great catastrophe that would be a huge help to us and it would be a huge help i'd like to reiterate what these two have said earlier federal legislation when it comes to funding needs to tell the states we're going to give you this money and we're going to give you this money to do as you see best for your state to fit the needs of your state but this doesn't mean you get to stop making a contribution towards those efforts that legislation needs to make that clear because states cannot just decide well the federal government's coming in and giving us all this money we're going to stop contributing and i know that in louisiana we've had 15 million dollars put towards our next voting system by the legislature and through some self-generated revenue they also passed a bill this year that will raise the pay of our election commissioners hopefully that will help us recruit i know every state's going through that problem of recruiting election day commissioners early voting commissioners that sort of thing that's a problem we're facing too hopefully this will help us so they have made some investment hopefully there's more to come and hopefully the federal government will step up and give us that consistent stream that we need thank you for that um we've got some good questions here i think i'm going to combine a couple of them matt i'm going to start with you we'll go matt joel susan let me check time here susan you might get the final word here the home state advantage so we've hit on this a little bit but um you know just to combine a couple thoughts here or or if there's anything that we missed you know specifically uh the ideal timeline for federal election funding and then any changes to the hava grant structure that would improve the impact of the grants to local jurisdictions and so matt will let you start with that yeah i think the funding timeline there's no ideal i think it's mostly expectations based and what i was saying earlier was the congress the federal congress has expectations for funding that are completely unrealistic 18 money isn't going to be spent in 18.
22 money is going to be spent this year for the most part um so that's one issue you know bpc is has long been on the record as you don't make major changes to your either policies your laws um or your your infrastructure in a federal election year now certainly when you have statewide elections every year it's always going to be complicated but you certainly want to roll out new technology um and new laws with enough time for voters to get used to it before your highest turnout elections so all these things have to be taken into account when you're when you're thinking about i don't know that necessarily changes or impacts when the money is being delivered as long as expectations understand um those limitations or what i think should be limitations on when states are making changes to their process with the money i'll briefly interject that in 2018 as a rules committee staffer i knew that the 18 money wasn't for 18 but then they gave me a different job so i can't i can't swear to what's happening right now uh joel i'll agree that it's not necessarily the timeline but it's the matter of having that consistent funding so that we can expect we know that when we're going into an election year we'll have the help that we need coming from our federal partners as far as on the local level because we're such a different state as far as how we run elections at the statewide level top down state versus all 64 parishes doing different things i can't really speak as much to that but i'll say that if they were to put in language and legislation that says you have to give this amount of money or this percentage of these funds to local election officials well that would affect us because there are certain things that we're going to pay for at the state level that the parishes and the clerks of court and the registrars of voters in those parishes are not necessarily going to be paying for that the counties may pay for in other states so that's why because that's just one way we're different than the other 49 states at how we run elections and that's why election funding needs to have flexibility in it so that we can do what's best for us parishes think about it you know again for anyone that spent any time around elections if you assume that there's something that's right for all 50 states you are assuming incorrectly and so that is always at the heart of of anything that relates to 50 state elections is that it depends uh and so as promised susan i will give you the final word here uh again home state you get to take us out on a high note oh my goodness i actually don't have anything to add to what they said i agree with them 110 pete i do have to say that declan gets an a whatever class he has because he knew what a butterfly ballot was but thanks thanks for having us this was a great conversation appreciate everyone's attention and contribution to it so thank you very much well big thank you to all of the panelists thank you so much for being here in your contributions and we will get ready for the final panel of the day thank you all so we're going to begin panel four um we're going to bring this presentation in this uh this event to a landing here with this last panel final four we're going to talk about the future of elections in hava they have america vote act 20 years from now um and as the panel description notes um java was originally passed five years before the invention of the iphone and what that really shows you is how technologically advanced and and sort of landscape moves and tectonic shifts um in the span of just five years much less 20 years and what have we seen in those 20 years i think that from my perspective in 2008 is when i became very close in election administration at the state level and you started to see what the eac was doing with standards and the testing program that they had and i was in the state of florida we had a testing program that was very much informed by what the election assistance commission was doing but java was a congressional response to the technical challenges of 2002 and so i really see that the current where we are today is responding sort of to a couple of different things obviously the technology is something that we're trying to keep up with as election administrators um i think that there are some there's news and then there's good news i think the news is that now the testing and certification of voting machines and the processes that we it's a national security issue it's as highlighted as never before there's so much focus on this as much focus as it was in 2000 in 2002 the good news though and it sort of gets lost with things is since 2002 our voting systems have never been more secure more accessible more usable to the public and to our election officials and that's frankly because there have been improvements over those 20 years the threats are still there we have to you know adjust to those threats but from a fundamental level our success has never been more accurate that was the whole purpose of hava and so we have a panel today that's going to discuss where we are and where we're going to go in the next 20 years because i think it's going to be just as fast moving or even more than the last 20 years have been and it's been extremely fast moving and why does this even matter it matters because the voters the whole conference has been about how we build trust and voter confidence and we have to we have to be concerned about that we absolutely have to be as well as the congress and the states demand that our voting systems are secure they demand that we that they're accessible and so where do we look over the next 20 years and our panel um today i'm going to i'm going to do a brief introduction to then then we're going to let them talk about where they see how in the next 20 years first will be doug lewis who was formerly of the election center and he was the executive director of nasa's national association of state election directors which i was a member for a number of years almost 10 years he played a key role in the adoption of the help america vote act and the election assistance commission dean logan who is the clerk and recorder in the registrar voters here in los angeles county california which is the largest jurisdiction in the united states i am glad that responsibility is not on my shoulders um and and and he's also a board member of election center which as we've discussed before is a professional group that deals with training of local election officials and state election officials across the country the next panelist we have is dee kersey who's the general counsel deputy secretary of state of west virginia in that secretary of state's office he has also been a member of nasa ed and someone who had we have worked with with the eac mindy romero is the founder and director of the center for inclusive democracy cid at the university of south uh usc seoul price school of public policy and she's a california native here give a welcome to our guests so why don't we just go right down the list here and look take three to five minutes talk about what the issues are on your mind i have some issues you know um obviously we talked we know yeah well yeah exactly um but i'd like you to talk about where we are where we're going the next 20 years um and so each planet could take panelists take between three and five minutes that would be great and then we'll go into some questions doug i'll show you well folks you know thanks for hanging in here i know we're the last panel of the day if you get done listening before we get done talking we'll find you in the bar okay you know i was one time introduced by an election official and he said we're glad to have old doug here today he was here when moses was building the ark and i i may not actually have been that long but at 76 i'm almost old enough to be a poll worker so i'm you know i'm working up to it it's terrible let me take just a second because you all are recording this and hopefully elections officials around the country are going to have an opportunity to view this at some point we need you those of you who are elections officials this country needs you we need you desperately you are the people who make this process work who make sure it's accurate who makes sure it's honest who makes sure it's fair the arguments that people have about the process most of the time truly are not about you now i know that we're you're going through a whole lot of criticism and a whole lot of attacks in this let me say to you understand that america appreciates what you do and we need you desperately to make sure democracy survives through all of the [Applause] tribulations you are in my mind every elected official in the united states needs to start singing the praises of the local elections operations and the state elections operations we need to get out in front of this so that everybody understands the process is important it's far more important than partisanship it's far more important than philosophical disagreements on how we do things this is if we lose faith in democracy you cannot believe in institutions you cannot believe in government offices you cannot believe in governments that result from it and so this is how important it is that we're talking about all of this and so i hope i hope we can communicate to every office holder you need to start speaking up and not stand up for your party but stand up for democracy okay where we are is i think when you look at the future of the help america vote act and the future of elections one of those clearly we've heard from the panels before is this a whole security issue which the aesa plays a really major role in in the sense of doing processes that are so complicated that the general public doesn't understand them but it's absolutely necessary to protect elections and so i hope we are able to give you all continuous funding and continuous staffing to make sure that work because the election systems today are infinitely better than they were 20 years ago they are infinitely better now one of the problems that we heard today is is that we don't replace them often enough you know i mean we get to the point that because government sort of has a habit if somebody if you were to tell them that this stuff lasts 10 years they'll find a way to stretch it to 15 or 16.
You know and and so that's not wise when it comes to elections and folks let me tell you if you think good elections are expensive whether you have a bad one i guarantee you it gets really expensive at that point and so where we want to be in this is looking at how do in the future do we take the the concerns of citizens and and look i know some of i know some of us get to the point that we get a little frustrated with some of the loudest voices that are out there and that want to um talk about how the whole system is broken the truth is we have to do the process to where most of those who are rational and reasonable will understand how we get there and why we get there and why we do some of the processes we do and so the eac is an agency of the federal government that is now 20 years old and 20 years old in terms of the federal government is invitational you know unfortunately i learned a long time ago working with the federal government you you know it basically has two speeds eternal or glacial you know and and yet with the eac look at what we've been able to do in 20 years time i mean yes we didn't change everything we didn't get everything done but within 20 years time we've got an agency that does provide resources that is able to advise cisa and department of homeland security that is able to advise congressional members and their staffs on why we do certain things and why what they're proposing is not likely to work the way they intended and so i think when we look at the future of this we look at the future of having the ability to build that faith in the process and and so that all of you know i've been around long enough you know in this deal that i went through election 2000 election 2004 where it was the other party that uh had concerns and they were the democrats were absolutely certain that something had to be done that the elections officials were screwing up the process and that they weren't counting votes accurately and and that some of those people had to be too partisan and right on down the line and of course none of that was true but we had to go through establishing why now it took us nine years if you want to know the truth it took us nine years when we came out of that to reestablish that credibility and to get those vote totals back up in terms of how much the public thinks about elections we had the highest we've ever really had in faith of the elections from the general public is about 88 there's always going to be that percentage that doesn't trust anything you do but it took us that long to get back up to that deal now we've got it on the other side this time we've got it with republicans being concerned and conservatives being concerned that the process is somehow broken and this process is somehow not working correctly it's not true now either but it doesn't mean that we can ignore those concerns and those fears we have to face them up and we have to do that's the beauty of what the eac can do the beauty of the eac is it can command attention the beauty of the eac is is it can help us get national attention focused on the right parts of this message as well as the substantive parts of how it all works and so i'm hoping that we can get to the point that once again everybody is happy with this and that elections look elections officials are really pretty simple creatures they you know they take in some registrations they schedule an election they put some voting systems out they find places to hold for voting they order ballots and account ballots that's really kind of a simple system in it except it's far more complicated than that i will want you know elections officials have one prayer dear lord please let the winners win big you know so that there is no question about this and so where we are is at a crossroads in all of the time that i worked in public policy related to elections elections have never been funded as well as any other part of government now that's not true in about 25 percent of our jurisdictions 25 of our jurisdictions have equal funding to whatever the job is of of other departments or agencies in their locales but that means 75 percent are not funded well enough and so we are going in in this day and age when you've got nation states trying to interfere with your election and let me tell you that's important and that's real that's a real concern and something we need to worry about but i'm also going to say to you the biggest danger is us we have met the enemy and it is us the republicans complain that the elections process is not fair and that there's too much cheating going on and there's too much fraud going on the democrats complain that the elections process is not fair it's not allowing all the people to vote and that voter suppression whatever that term means and whatever fraud means those are two you know big deals but they're religious beliefs of the two parties and so you have a tough time talking people out of that the point is is by doing what they do they denigrate fundamental faith in this process and let me tell you folks if we lose that faith in this process we're not going to have a country that we know it's not going to be one that we recognize because look the greeks lost democracy they created democracy they invented it and when they lost it they lost it for 2300 years before another one shows up and so that's the risk to humanity that's the risk to america that's the risk to democracy throughout the world we have to do that and that's why i am personally glad that we've got you guys involved in this and so i'll stop at that point and let somebody else talk thank you doug dean so thanks uh commissioner palmer and aeac and pepperdine for having the the forum today um doug we've missed you it's it's i missed your your opening jokes and and um and you're a hard person to follow on the last panel of the day there's been a lot that's been um said today but i appreciate the opportunity to to be here and talk a little bit about this java i think for for many of us in the room the passage of java was was very significant point in our careers um some people left elections when java was um was coming into to play i had briefly left elections right before java and actually have what sucked me back into this business and then this week thinking about the theme of this about what it's going to be like in 20 years i got distracted thinking about what i'd like to be doing in 20 years rather than java but um but i digress i i think it's it's an interesting um time i i actually found when when i was thinking about this i found a a java at 10 years retrospective that i was asked to write for a publication that charles stewart and mike alvarez put together for the um the caltech mit voting technology project and i was reading through it and you know have accomplished a lot we we did a lot in that in those first 10 10 years but that future perspective of where do we go from here um still remains relevant today so as i was kind of uh reflecting on that i was i was putting into the context that you know java really came out of a a close federal election that exposed the the vulnerabilities the lack of capacity the lack of funding and the um you know some of the the behind the scenes uh elements of elections administration this country elections administration that that at that time really wasn't built or designed for a a razor thin outcome and after a lot of work in the passage of hava we we had a framework to quickly respond to those things to to get out advancements in technology to get funding out to um states and counties to address those vulnerabilities those capacity issues and to start standardizing some basic tenets of voting accessibility second chance voting for people to check their ballots a statewide voter registration database that could provide for some uniform list maintenance activities and as that progressed then as we started to face these security issues the cyber security concerns and the nation-state threats um java and the ac have been uh pivotal there but where do we find us today today we we we're coming out of a 2020 election cycle i think some of us are hoping we can come out of the 2020 election cycle hasn't happened yet but um that that was very different but also significant with regard to hava because in in this case um what what the 2020 election cycle has exposed is the the the political and partisan strategizing that that impacts the administration of elections it's not it wasn't about the voting systems it wasn't about the the infrastructure uh in fact in the face of a a international pandemic the infrastructure of elections in this country held up pretty darn well and we and we had a successful election but we had an election in the face of all those challenges that was premised by people saying in advance of the election i want it known if it doesn't go the way i want it there was something wrong with the election so that narrative started before any votes were counted and continues today and that has become the political strategy so when i think about java 20 years from now uh the first thing that comes to mind is we don't have 20 years to correct that if we don't correct that and doug you alluded to this too if we don't correct that immediately then there won't be anything to look back at in 20 years um the degradation of the process the degradation of the confidence it won't matter who's being elected it won't matter who's in the majority if there's not trust and confidence in the elections process that foundation fails so i would argue first that we have we owe it to the work that we all did collectively in java to turn that around how we do that i think is tricky um i i would like to believe and i appreciated the comments in the in the first panel that you know first and foremost people in positions like mine we need to be focused on just do your job right and and let the rest of it happen i appreciate that i agree that's a priority it has to be our top priority but we did our jobs right in 2020 and it wasn't enough and we have to be at the table and part of turning that narrative around otherwise we're going to be in a world of of of hurt um so that's kind of the broad perspective that i that i wanted to to share today i think on a more specific note you know again the basic tenets of hava um are not destinations they're ongoing activities uh you know the whole idea of help america vote act helping is an activity you don't stop doing it you don't achieve it at some point it's something that requires you to pay attention to the environments you're operating in and continue to find ways to help to improve to maintain and and and move forward and so you know those basic tenets of accessibility security accuracy transparency usability automation um serving our voters who are in the military and overseas these were things that were key parts of that dialogue when java was passed and those are ongoing activities we're not going to reach a destination on that and that's why having needs to be relevant going into the future unfortunately and you've all heard lots of this today um the part of java that was time time uh matched was the funding right so so um that the funding is not yet ongoing and and i don't need to repeat what everybody said here but that's a critical component and i think to the to the point that was made in the in the last panel um we have to strike that balance of how that what what comes attached to that funding i think it's clear we need the funding if we are truly going to help america vote and have trust and confidence in our elections i think if we can tie that funding to those basic tenants maybe not to the specifics of how those tenants are carried on carried out in a given state or a given jurisdiction but those tenets of again accessibility security accuracy and transparency then that's where we should should head in the future and then the last piece that i will say is is as the um as the only local election administrator um to speak today who's on the ground and sometimes i kind of feel funny saying that because i i don't while i've been a very local election administrator in my um in my past career i i really respect and appreciate the needs of smaller and medium-sized jurisdictions who who don't have the capacity to to be out in part of these conversations who are who are who are doing the the hard work but i think the the the other real important part of helping america vote is keeping the focus on the voter and and even today we spend a lot of time talking about systems we've talked a lot about policy we've talked a lot about research but at the end of the day what's the voter experience like because that's what really is going to build the confidence and so when i think about what what's ahead for the next 20 years what do we need to be paying attention to about our voting population some of that is is changing demographics right coming out of the post-pandemic realities are that voters expect now options they aren't looking for one method of voting they're looking for the option of voting that gives them their individual confidence about the security of the process and their ability to choose within some framework when where and how to cast their ballot and frankly that saved us in the pandemic because had we only had one methodology of voting um it would have been very hard to conduct that election uh in the face of the pandemic the other thing we have to pay attention to is changing demographics um we l.a county just recently created a new new department a department of aging and disability specifically focused on those two issues it's been very illuminating for for those of us who are department heads in the county because we've learned a lot of statistics things like that half of 13 year olds today are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday and probably several beyond that and the fact that by 2030 the older adult population is expected to double in our community and that in that older adult population that are living longer 42 percent of those people have some form of disability some some barrier that could affect their access to basic services and their ability to continue to participate in our electoral process so we have to have a voting system and a voting process that's responsive to that that's anticipating that and that that it goes beyond kind of that mere compliance of having one piece of equipment that serves voters with disabilities over in the corner of the voting room that um that the poll workers cross their fingers and hope nobody wants to use it right it's that's not going to cut it going forward contrast that to the other fastest growing population at least in this community are people under the age of 30 that are going to have a very different expectation about those services and what citizen participation means and how we serve those so i think it's important that we don't get stuck in on one hand celebrating the success we've made say we did great we we had the success in 2020 even in the face of a pandemic but the work is not done this is this is engagement with its critical engagement for our governance structure and it only works if we're responsive to the voters who who have to participate in order for it to work so i could get down in the weeds there's there's other little things like you know again really being wary of single points of vulnerability in the system um vote by mail arguably saved us during the pandemic uh a different type of emergency that shuts down the us postal service um creates a different situation so hanging all of our hats in one on on one peg is not going to be the answer the other thing and i've taught and this was actually in the article at 10 years so we so we obviously haven't solved this one yet but there's so much about our electoral process that depends solely on um the validity of of the match of a voter signature to the signature that they have on file and uh and signatures just aren't what they they aren't uh they don't have the utility they used to have we don't we don't use our we don't have that muscle memory in our our hands uh we don't sign our names and when we do we don't really pay attention how we sign up we just scribble something because we're at cvs and we're trying to get our points right but there's so much i mean whether it's access for a candidate to get on the ballot whether it's validity of your vote by mail ballot whether it's signing a petition for initiative and referendum or recall those things are solely left to signature verification and we've done some great things in the last 10 years of creating policy that allows voters to be notified and cure that but those are real really resource intensive they're costly they're time consuming and they yield very little in terms of results because by the time you notify a voter hey your ballot is sitting here um and your signature didn't match they also know the outcome of the election at that point so how motivated are they to to to cure that ballot but they are still frustrated that their ballot didn't count so those are just a couple of examples that that that i would say on a specific level of things for us to pay attention to um and and again kind of to end back with the cost and doug you said it so well that you know the cost of stagnation or inertia and inaction um far outpaces the cost of an ongoing steady commitment of resources that are based on those basic tenets of habit that we all work together on thank you dean i took away from that that we got a lot of hard work ahead of us we're only beginning this panel deak kersey from um west virginia um we talked a little a lot about accessibility already um and how that's a key part of hava and eac could you talk about you know what your thoughts are on this 20 years from now and and how do you see serving the voters west virginia yes thank you commissioner palmer uh this morning when we heard the the words president bush if you listen you heard a phrase that hear a lot of election administrators use across the country he said java was really based on this premise that we want free fair secure elections and so have is not the only federal law that was designed aimed at that premise you've got the ada you have you acaba for overseas military voters you have the rehabilitation act which is well before habit was even thought about you have the move act and all these things sort of go together into hava and i'll talk a little bit about the court decisions and some of the analyses you see the judges apply to hava and the ada specifically and the accessibility side of the world but i just want to point out you know from the get-go that accessibility is is a foundation of hava of the ada of yokaba of the move act we're focused not just in 2022 or in 2020 or 2002 on providing everybody meaningful opportunities to participate whether you have the ability to go into a polling place and use a voting machine or vote from home on a paper ballot without assistance so in west virginia uh in 2017 we came into office our our secretary of state was very focused on uo cava accessibility he comes from a military background overseas he served in war zones in multiple places uh across the world and he personally experienced uh being disenfranchised he couldn't get a paper ballot through the mail and at the time that was the only option uh because of the short time frame and so he thought if we can communicate using technology why can't we and if we can send secure documents electronically why can't we use uh technology to send ballots at least to people who need it most at least to these identified groups or sectors of our society that don't have the same opportunities as those us who do stateside or who aren't living with a disability to participate and so we use technology in the 2018 midterms we did a very small pilot and we transferred ballots electronically to voters overseas employed military and they could mark that ballot electronically and if they so choose they could send it back electronically lots of questions are raised on the security side of the world but we know we saw the accessibility problem they didn't have to worry about finding a printer they didn't have to find a fax machine they didn't have to rely their county clerk was going to open this pdf email from this dot doj account they'd never seen before and they certainly didn't have to worry about on the request side whether or not the federal voting assistance program was going to get their information and time on paper to get it over the county clerk it's thousands of miles away and so building on our uo kava technology that we adopted we immediately saw that this technology could be used in another group of our society and that's for our disabled voters those who can't participate in person because of their disability and who can't mark a paper ballot without assistance they're waiving their right to secrecy they have to have someone help them mark their ballot and so our state legislature passed the law proactively and now we are required to extend the same opportunities to voters with disabilities in west virginia as we do for our military our overseas citizens and so that's what we're doing right now tying that into to uh just yesterday or the day before the state of wisconsin there's a federal district court that just rendered a decision that said under the ada or under the voting rights act excuse me voters have to have the same meaningful opportunities to participate as those who do in person absentee voters have to say have the same opportunity to participate as those in person as those mailing in ballots and so it was precipitated on a state law challenge and and i won't bore you with the legal guard but what we know now is it's still real that we have states and jurisdictions that are battling over accessibility we see this in north carolina recently in the state of texas recently where it started i don't know i could tell you when when java was passed i was in seventh grade so i've not been around as long as some of the veterans in here so i'm sorry mindy um but uh uh what i do know is when i've studied these legal issues when we were doing it in west virginia accessibility and fairness and equal opportunity are all prevalent over things like security now you have to balance accessibility with security and that's where i think the eac can come in the future of hava and the future of the ada and the future of the vra and all the other federal laws that we have to follow i think could be focused on developing standards like tracy talked about their uniform that we can follow not just for voting systems for our in-person participation but also for our voters who can't vote in person because of something beyond their control like a disability because they chose to serve their country in another and and now they're in another country during during the election period developing standards is is not an easy thing we know we just now have vvsg 2.0 but west virginia was able to work with federal contractors for our recent deployment of our accessible technology and we pulled from other critical infrastructure sectors and we look at nist standards and the cmmc standards and we tried to find those that applied most to what we were doing we were transmitting information using electronics we were using the internet we were using databases and we were using devices that are in other people's control that are beyond the state's control so lots of risks there lots of attack vectors but other critical infrastructure sectors have solved some of these problems or at least they have protocols in place and they have controls in place and security standards in place that it lets us know from the foundational standpoint the technology that this critical infrastructure sector is using has been vetted by outsiders third parties vistals uh perhaps even federal agencies like the eac and if not the ac who we don't we don't have another eac like uh agency that can lead this charge fvap does it for yuo kava but we don't really have an ada side of the world for our absentee voters so the eac seems to be naturally fitted to fill this role they've developed standards for in-person voting systems and this perhaps is an opportunity looking forward to develop standards for other systems looking at e-poll books looking at electronic ballot absentee delivery and marking and other things so i'll again also yield my time back to the commissioners thank you and i will yield back to miss mindy romero um what do you think uh what are your thoughts um as we look at the next 20 years uh well first off thank you very much for having me here today can you hear me okay yes ma'am okay and when i was signaling to deek a moment ago not to mention that you were in seventh grade it wasn't because i it made me feel old i was even younger of course i just thought you know in an age-diverse group it wasn't polite anyway um as i start i really want to actually pick up on something that dean said um not not a surprise but uh dean was talking about um keeping the focus on the voter today and so the marks that i the remarks that i prepared was just you know thinking about in advance of today thinking about that the topics that were on the agenda the speakers uh and how i kind of assumed the flow of conversation would would go i knew it would be of course incredibly rich um and insightful and important but i wanted to make sure that i was in my given that i was going to be on the last panel in the last person um at least you know for this element um i wanted to make sure that i was focusing on the voter and what i think is the goal of many in this room when we talk about java when we talk about the nbra when we talk about election reforms when we talk about good election administration is we want to see an accessible election run well administered well of course and we have many things that we have to be concerned with today um but we also want to see voters participate right ultimately the goal of hava and so many things so many reforms it's been about participation um what that exactly looks like i'm sure that varies you know when you when we say you know increased participation a full electorate that's going to probably mean different things to different people in the detail in this room but i imagine that all of us kind of share that in the wide in the wide definition if that makes sense um and over the course of the panels today we of course talked about the state of democracy in america and i certainly agree with many of the concerns and challenges that have been discussed but i want to set the stage in terms of where where i see the state of elections right now the thing that i want to add to the conversation not the full i agree with many of the things that have already been said as i mentioned but what i want to add to the conversation that i don't think really has been discussed today um and then i'll talk about the future from there so there are many bright spots right we've talked about so many concerns but let's note that there have been democracy successes over recent years the many election reforms that have been implemented across the country and i will say since we are the host state california is also a bright spot there because we over the last decade has have helped pass and implement our election officials in this state our secretary of state's office dean leading the way in los angeles um and many community groups voting advocacy groups have helped implement a number of reforms uh avr pre-registration the voter's choice act just expansion of vote by mail and list of course goes on those have been implemented they're still being implemented in many counties of course and we're tracking and understanding the impacts on the electorate but i think by and large it's a success story in our state and we think that there are successes amen across the country with many of these reforms and california hopefully in some way i think that has significantly helped lead the conversation right especially the research that comes out of our state um so another success has also been noted today is the 2020 general election in terms of turnout we saw record or record or historical i should say historical turnout for that election in the general election voter turnout across all populations in our state across the nation improved with more latino asian american black voters casting ballots than we've seen in at least in any previous election at least certainly in california statewide election and that means more voters of color are participating in our elections and that's exciting right okay and all this happened within a pandemic when so many of us were concerned as i know if i may i think dean was as well many of us right across us across the field were concerned that you know would the pandemic suppress turn out why would people be fearful of health you know all of that would be would we be looking at a lower rep turnout but of course that didn't happen um however the increases didn't translate and i want to make sure that this is something we talk about today it didn't they didn't increase sorry they didn't translate into a more representative electorate so when we talk about increases we know everybody increased but when we talk about representation we're looking at the gaps right across groups if we want to just keep it simple and talk about race ethnicity and in the four largest groups in our country as we track and we have available data the gaps between whites and blacks and white white turnout and black turnout latino turnout and white turnout asian-american turnout and white turnout um you know a bit of a mixed bag but we didn't see substantial growth in any way we slice it and we just use simple current population survey data which is by the census which has its problems known problems in terms of uh being able to to to give us accurate numbers by race ethnicity but we just use those numbers to kind of keep it simple um we know the gaps in turnout rates stayed about the same between whites and latinos if we compare 2016 general election to 2020 general election gap in turnout rates increased between whites and blacks white turnout increased higher than black turnout in the u.s and that's coming off of a big dip in black turnout from 2012 to 2016.
and a bright spot though that's why i said mixed bag um turned out decreased between asian americans and whites um nationally for a number of reasons although we're still trying to understand and there's of course lots of other researchers out there with different methodologies in terms of being able to identify turnout but i think everybody that's looking at turnout whatever sources you're using there's no big story unfortunately to say hey the this you know historically high turnout gave us a a situation where we saw a greater representation where we saw those gaps close or narrow in in a real way across the board does that make sense okay so we celebrate the turnout we also look to say hey representation right and that leaves us because of those gaps in turnout and leaves us with an electorate that continues to be right uh not representative of our population in the u.s across the us in our state here is older wealthier whiter and you know and and i could go on in terms of the demographic groups and that's real and that's real because that's the promise ultimately i think right in terms of all of these reforms for many is to see a more representative electorate so what should we be thinking about future elections um as i noted last decade the collective we we the collective we have focused a lot on reforms but let me say that the reforms have mostly been about making people want to vote and and i think a couple of you including dean with i was uh at a place recently a future california elections conference where i was talking about some of this so you'll have to hear it again i apologize but just some of it um so uh you know those reforms are really about the reforms that we've seen are really about making people want to vote i'm sorry making making it easier for people to vote right access what i've spent the last 20 years of my career looking at which is institutional reforms how can those reforms right increase participation but also representation but what we know is all of those reforms incredibly important and some of them have already in california been documented to increase like vote by mail documented to increase um turnout uh and for voters of color in many ways as well and for young people they are incremental steps and they increase at best to turn out in incremental in incremental numbers in small numbers if that makes sense um there's been tremendous work to pass these reforms tremendous work to implement the reforms but the hard truth is that the reforms are largely incremental steps through critical steps in reducing barriers to participation i'm not saying we don't pursue them of course we have to we must they definitely help you know many individuals vote they improve the voter experience overall which is so fundamentally important uh they improve you know give more ways for people to vote as dean talked about today more ways to cast their ballot ability to cure your rejected ballot the list goes on but they're not enough to move the needle in a significant way when it comes to turnout and when it comes to representation of the measure representation at least in terms of again the groups that we have data for so we're not changing the turnout gap story or the representation representation story in big ways we're not moving that needle as i said so what do we need to do and i know that you know we're talking about election administration and of course there are limits to what election uh you know even the most uh concerned and passionate and about uh election official goes above and beyond there are limits to what you can do right within the electoral structure we have within the election laws that we have but again for something to think here today um we need to not just work on making it easier for people to vote we need to also focus on making more people want to vote right that's the motivation question and here i'm not talking about you know voters are apathetic and we need to no i'm saying that we need to give people right help people to see the value in voting to overcome many of the real barriers that are in place for why people don't participate the level of disconnection that people feel um it's tough because many um not all voters but many many potential voters don't see how the active voting impacts their lives especially communities in poverty where families are just barely getting by they can struggle so much financially taking care of their families they simply don't have time energy the motivation to learn about the election to learn about the voting process and the importance of having a voice in the political process they sometimes have little knowledge about why their vote can make a difference little evidence that they see right that they're connected to in terms of why it makes why it matters why it does make a difference some voters are outright distressful that uh elected officials any in the room present company excluded and i said elected not election officials um but elected officials are actually serving the interests of their communities um and for some it's not about wanting to make a mistake they don't vote because they don't want to make a mistake they don't have enough information they don't feel comfortable or confident in the voting and they don't want to pick somebody that's going to hurt their community right is the way they may see it so they set out the process because they don't want to make a mistake right that's hurtful or harmful so and even voters who go to the polls regularly often quietly confess maybe some of you have heard them um that they don't vote out of a sense oh sorry that they vote they confess that they vote out of a sense of civic duty or social responsibility but maybe personally they don't have much faith that their vote is actually going to make a difference so they vote it's my civic duty but they don't really themselves know that it matters right or believes that matters so now more than ever so many have come to believe that politics are rigged in favor of those with power access wealth again that's perceptions right uh to the advantage of one party or another this is especially true of course for many communities of color who have been historically marginalized and often long experienced a lack of representation by their elected officials or sorry yes um then add to this the increasing problem of widespread voter i have a lot of pages only because it's a really big font because okay i am getting a little old and i can't see um then add to this increasing problem of widespread voter misinformation and the politically polarized times in which we live in and it shouldn't actually be surprising why many people simply aren't motivated to vote or they've lost the faith in the process if they had it to begin with so we need to talk about how our electoral system is structured how it makes people feel or can at least feel disconnected makes people feel that their vote not doesn't matter i won't get into all of that today but i'll just touch on it here just a little bit um so but first i just want to note that all of this of course is very much impacted by our nation's shameful history and deep history of systematically denying the right to vote so why people feel disconnected that's a big that's a part of it right we have to acknowledge that um denying people the right to vote targeted by race of the city age religion geography so on we are still dealing from the impact of this voter suppression and marginalization today that shows up in the research that we do that i do as well and of course efforts to overtly suppress the vote you know continue across the nation in many different forms some obvious some not so obvious and on top of this we have though those bright spots that i mentioned those election laws election reforms that are about increasing access right to voters um like the many of the ones that i'm noted specifically here in california um and in addition although this is also of course clearly related is how our democracy and elections are fundamentally set up how they are set up has consequences on political behavior and here i'm talking about something bigger the fundamental nature of how our elections are structured that influences how competitive or representative races are things like the majority win or take all districts right that has real comp and now i'm not suggesting anybody right here has the power to change that but it should be something that we discuss right and an ongoing way and just understanding at least the impact that it has on voters in terms of discouraging them right for thinking that their vote matters if they think it's already a safe district for instance right that's an easy way to think about it and all of this we should consider within the very real reality of demographic change which dean already stole from me um over the last decade or decades the united states has experienced a number of significant demographic shifts we know this is going to continue um you know we've gotten more racially and ethnically diverse we've gotten older but we also have more young people coming into the electorate which is also shaping the needs of voters and potential voters certainly from an election administration perspective um and lastly i'm just going to close on funding so there's many things that we can consider if this is a broader conversation around maybe some of those changes to our electoral system maybe not the big fundamental like winner takeoff systems but certainly things like you know politics um political influence of big money and those kinds of things we could be talking about that all influence again how people see the relevance and and the relevance of their vote and how it matters and how they feel disconnected or maybe hopefully feel connected to the political process but one big thing is that we should be funding our elections this has already been noted many many times today of course but i don't know if anyone has talked about um and i missed the third panel my apologies but the 400 million dollar potential amount for the federal budget that is something we of course all should be uh i would argue not in just support of but also a champion um what we have now and i was just talking to somebody that i know many of you know kim alexander yesterday um and she was encouraging me we were talking through this topic and just really recognizing that we put everything on the backs of local election elected officials sorry local election officials um we have federal we have state and we have local all of us suffer from the consequences of the fact that funding really is at the local level right the responsibility from whether it be security all the way to dealing with um you know misinformation on local uh social media to just the the facts of of good election administration um and we need to give of course more support um in a very much larger way not only to our local elected officials but to recognize the the interconnectedness of all of this and the fact that um we are not fully supporting the local level again at everybody's expense and i will end it there thank you thank you ms romero um so i'm going to ask a general question um first to doug but everyone please weigh in so when we think about we're a little bit run short on time but when we think about those that have the most need for from a funding perspective the small medium counties that triggered something that how do we really raise them to a level where we want all of our county officials to be or locality officials to be and when i also talked about those need the most need you know we usually think about those that are more remote like or or have most difficulty voting for example those with disabilities or those that might be overseas in a remote area so if if doug if you could just touch on that and then was on the road on any suggestions and we have plenty of questions but those are the first things that came to my mind listening to your comments on funding and on voters who need more assistance to be able to participate in the process don i think part of this is we need to break down and do the look again statistically at where the voters are and roughly if i remember correctly i've been out of it for seven years here so i'm not sure of my data but as i remembered about 72 of the voters come from about 25 percent of the counties you know and um and so the rest are then scattered through all those other three thousand counties in america so how do we help them how do we get the greatest well i i think part of this is is recognition that um these folks don't have access to travel money they don't have access to uh most of the time to go get training from outfits like the election center or igo or any of those other things or even eac and and so we're going to have to figure out a way how do we get a better training to them how do we get better resources to them in most of these small counties the choices really come down to do we buy a road greater to clear the roads when the snow comes or do we put more money in elections and what we've got in most of america among most governing officials at the at the local level is what i call the 1776 syndrome which is we've been having elections since 1776 whether we spend any money or a lot of money you know and so this is one of those where they just they tend to poo-poo that they need to do more um where we are in terms of safety and security of voting systems that those local levels those small two and three and four person operations they don't have the technology skills to do this and so we need to fund from eac level to bigger counties who then support smaller counties and to and or develop regional support groups where we put in a good technical person to do that sort of thing we certainly need to give them more resources with which to do their job it was amazing to me when i when i first came back into the election administration world and and started traveling around and started talking to these folks most of them when i went out in those smaller didn't even have a fax machine in those days this is the 90s you know fax machines were everywhere they were cheap and yet they would still have to go to the county sheriff's department or the tax office office to get access to a fax machine most of them now have computers you know i i i want to say when charles was talking this morning about we're doing the same job um with the same number of people that's not true we had more people in all of these offices doing elections in 1950 than we've got in most of these offices now because it was primarily a manual process and we were having to process all of that with clerks and so we assigned a lot of people to this and we did a lot of now that we've got computers they expect us to do the work of 50 taking care of multiples of voters higher than we ever did before and so the recognition has got to come charles bless his heart i i've always loved charles that he's data centered one of the things we need to look at is in data centered stuff is how do we actually look at what they can do per voter and get this thing done you know and funding mechanisms funding mechanisms and and let me tell you here's here's the real crux of the problem when it comes to the federal government funding the crux of the problem is that there are so many local officials not election officials local officials budget authorities who are so afraid that if we accept federal money we're going to have to do it the federal way and let me tell you in the help america vote act we had to fight that for two cotton-picking years to where we said no you cannot be prescriptive about everything we've got to allow this process to work and it was the first time the federal government had ever done the kind of bill that we did in iowa which was we're going to tell you what we want as outcomes you all designed the process to fit that well we're very lucky java is a very unique block type grant to the states it could have been a lot worse um but it really is a model when other agencies look at our grants they're like wow you're that's really sort of deferential to the states um any other comments from the panel on sort of how we help the small medium-sized counties get to a level where they need to be or we believe they need to be um because we're only as strong as our weakest you know county i i think just a couple things that i don't think there's a silver bullet answer to that but i do think some built-in flexibility into the funds so that so that it can it can adapt to the the size or the capacity of the jurisdiction and i think some of it goes to some of the things that were talked about earlier i mean the more we move to non-proprietary component-based systems then that enables the ability so for instance if we if we all had tally systems that can use commercial off-the-shelf scanners to to get images of their ballot but they can be system agnostic to the to the software that does the tabulation then you could you could envision a a situation where the state could take in the money and they could actually buy the scanners and distribute them to the to those counties um building into the ability for those local jurisdictions to have an equipment replacement fund so maybe in their election cost recovery model there's a portion of that that's set aside so it builds a funding source for for um equipment replacement um some investment and i know this one's tricky but some investment in research and development we talked about how excited we are that the the new vbsgs have passed but um the the very limited commercial vendor community is not going to build systems to those new standards until they know that they have customers that have money to buy them so so they're not they're not doing the building of them yet um so um some you know some incentive grants um to either build publicly owned systems which is something i'm partial to um or or to to incentivize the market i i think would be helpful um in that regard as well okay um you know dean your comments initially you said the immediate issue is trust in elections and we focus on that in this you know when i think about the efforts made by local election officials state and the federal government the aac and others um you know i guess the question is how can we improve and expand that communication to voters i mean we're you know we don't have super bowl ad money right i mean so it really is sort of us doing the uh tackling and buckling the local or basic level in social media is there any you know any uh insight on how we can improve that communication of voters just so they know where the trusted source or the local election official is that source yeah i think first is is making the distinction between what that outreach and education looks like and that it's about the it's about the process of elections administration it's not about the outcome of elections registrations it's not about who you're voting for or the positions it's about the mechanics of how elections are run and i i think you're right we're not we're never gonna have the money to do that on our own but i think if we can if we can draw that clear line we may be able to get partners who who are running ads during the super bowl who who can say again on the mechanics of running elections if you need to know how to vote in your community you need to talk to your local election administrator or to your secretary of state's office if you want to know who your party's endorsing you know go over here but for the mechanics or if you have questions about that and i think you know there was some discussion earlier about working with the social media platforms i've been in a number of meetings on that i think there's a desire to do that it's it's a tough nut to crack because i think they they want to just build new services as opposed to providing um ways to clarify it but it's it's real so i think we have to continue to have those dialogues too we can't do it alone so um anyone else have any input on that any comments you know so the one thing that's also pressing is we've talked about vbsg 2.0 we've talked about how we don't want it to be stagnant we want we want states and counties to be able to purchase a next generation of voting systems and have the luxuries of new security new and audibility and new accessibility standards how do we get there let's not make it 20 years how do we make sure that 10 years from now you know most of the country is functioning on 2.0 systems how do we do that again i i think i think part of this answer is is as you heard from other panels here is is that we have got to get to the point that we say voting systems are so critical to the process of this now that funding if nothing else comes ever that funding for voting systems alone needs to be done because it's an expensive proposition because you all have now given us vdsg2 it's probably going to be four to five years before we actually see the first system that meets those qualifications totally that that has it and the vendors dean's absolutely right the vendors are going to wait until there's a market for it too you know and or demand for it this is part of the reason we may have to get to the point that eventually we say you know we can't grandfather in old systems anymore we gotta we gotta sort of move and um and if you move toward it we'll help you fund it and and so i i i think we're going to have to look at some different models of how we do this now let me give you for instance new mexico provides at the state level a general pot fund and if you want to buy a new voting system you go to the general fund and you you take out a loan essentially and you buy your system and then you repay that loan and it goes back into that fund and that revolving fund then helps them take care of all their counties over a period of time and so we may have to look at something similar although i honestly think my goodness the federal government you know if we had to replace every voting system in america it probably would be at about 2 billion level and for most of these and so we waste more than 2 million billion you know and and and this is democracy we're talking about you know this is this is voting this is this is how we govern ourselves and so i think part of this is is finding a way to tell the story in ways that people can relate to the unfortunate fact of that don is is that we also end up having to deal with the partisans of both sides who want to tell us exactly how to you know structure this and how that money is to be spent and exactly what it can be spent on and all that rather than giving us the right to sort of do what we need to do any other comments on the how we get to 2.0 in the next couple years one thing i'll mention is unlike california we are west virginia is not able to set up our own independent uh testing laboratories and develop our own standards we rely on the eac to do that testing for us and only systems that are certified by the eac can apply for certification at our state's election commission if that certification goes away for a certain system that was previously certified it can no longer be used in the state it becomes de-certified so it's not something i'm advocating for because we would have a lot of counties scrambling but if we're looking at moving forward to technology that satisfies ddsg 2.0 that's one way that would force our hand into finding funding whether it be through the eac through the state to the county or a combination of the three to upgrade and we've seen it done in other states it can be done quickly it's messy and it's chaotic and it's expensive but the state of virginia decertified their machines very quickly uh and then upgraded to a votive voter verified paper trail um so not to call virginia out but uh they did a good job i mean it was chaos and and they got it done in the midst of an election cycle so it's been done before uh and it would be one way to force us into having a vvsg 2.0 compliant machine the only the only thing i'll add it's just um and i think this is what i was being alluded to as well funding takes public support right and i think particularly if you're talking about upgrades and technology in the environment we're in people can be even more suspicious if you will uh in terms of like what are those new technologies for are they what's the software are they pre-programmed all those sorts of things so um just all the more important that as we're uh seeking funding we really are making sure that we're outreaching you know explaining um and building trust over time with with voters in terms of being able to get that funding at the bottom line creating a sense of urgency around it so you know you mentioned you know the effort to get funding i mean one of the things that comes to my mind and hopefully all you can weigh in on this how do you build that bipartisan consensus that you need funding um you know part of the story i heard about the initial hobby was the law was passed and then only did they realize that well there's no money attached to it it's it's not going to work unless there's some money appropriated to the states to transition but how you know you were there with how do you build that consensus for that you know that infrastructure funding on the roads and bridges of elections you know it's like this isn't a partisan this is really just the fundamentals of elections don what what we did both between the election center and nas said we had been meeting with congressional folks for about five years before hava happened i mean before election 2000 happened and so what we did is we got uh the policymakers to understand that 95 of our elections issues are truly not of a partisan nature it's not the democratic way or the republican way of doing things it's just how do you run a good election and and serve voters well there is five percent of that but five percent of that is that's that's policy makers deal that's not our deal they can determine what they want to we'll run an election even if it's screwy we'll figure out a way to run an election to meet their objectives but what we did was by having both d's and ours liberals and conservatives who were elections officials meeting with them over a period of time and particularly with congressional staff at the committees of jurisdiction senate rules house admin we were able to get them to understand what the real issues were in this and then to see unintended consequences of what something might happen or do and and so that consensus got us to the point now part of the reason that we had bipartisan action was we had a national disaster on our hands and folks of both parties didn't want to be guilty of saying no to having to fix it but having the trust it was the first time in american history that the u.s congress involved the people who were doing the job to actually say how do we fix it you know and so we need to continue that's the model right that's the model that's right any comments dean or deak i would just say that and and it's not easy to do this but i think that i think to your point to get away from the partisanship is is to try to to establish a dedicated consistent federal investment in elections so it so it's not so it's not responding to the latest crises and to end to the partisan elements of that to say that no as critical infrastructure there's a place for a certain level of federal funding in our electoral process and and it's consistently funded i think that needs to happen at the state level too um right now funding typically follows a crisis and then and in that respect it's time limited and it's specific it's like punch cards were the controversy so here's money replace punch cards by tomorrow yeah and the money's gone and then we move on that that's not that's going to feed into the partisan um i'll just add um something charles mentioned earlier 1950s don't look surprised [Laughter] you're always very quotable charles discussed this in the 1950s no earlier he mentioned the time periods right uh in the u.s where we've had these moments um and charles well we what we could gain right what we could learn and what you said you learned right was leadership and of course i'm sure many of us were thinking we don't have that leadership now we have it in some places but um you asked a question about bipartisan um you know certainly with within our current uh slate of elected officials but also former elected officials others stepping up to create a sense of urgency a sense and build trust and really make the case is so critically important um and we're just not we're not you know amy klobuchar is wonderful to have um you know the people that we have the the few constants that we have currently in in congress that are uh leading the charge leading the conversation around the need for funding um you know the electoral account act gives me hope um the work that's happening around there but but you know we need greater leadership and unfortunately um i think right now people are making calculations that they you know they're not they're not stepping up in real big ways so we're quickly running out of time um while um i see that a couple questions may come my way we probably have one time for one or two at most while while that's coming to me though and i have a chance to look at them the question is how you know we just went through a pandemic and we actually had to hold an election and with a pandemic and be able to respond to that provide to the voters you know opportunities and options you know what are the crisis of the future if it's a natural disaster or or a pandemic um or or other i mean what what is your what should we be thinking about the next 10 to 20 years on helping states and localities prepare for the next natural disaster what are we not doing what are we what should we focus on well part of this part of this don is is you can't anticipate obviously all the disasters you can anticipate some of them because the ones we know you know whether um bomb scares um terrorist activity just a failure to make the process work the way it's supposed to and so on you can do that because you go through a process of planning and then once your disaster happens the plans sort of go out the window you know you've you've trained yourself to think about how to do this but but now that you've got the disaster it doesn't really fit your plan you know and so the the important part of this is to anticipate anticipate anticipate okay any any anyone else want to tackle that i just say what i said before i mean i think i think the good news is what we learned in the pandemic is we actually do have the ability to respond to a crisis we don't know what the crisis is going to be but our ability to do that depends on having multiple modes of operation we can't we can't rely on a single mode of operation that's true i'll add one quick thing i mean certainly i think a pandemic did i mean in california alone the within weeks of the state shutting down the nation shutting down so many you know uh elected officials election officials advocates community groups secretary of state's office came together uh to start planning for november um and it was quite incredible um and of course we've already noted many times today the success of uh administration in 2020 even in the pandemic um but what i will say is it's all those other crises i won't say smaller crises right and my question would be does does every local jurisdiction have a crisis prevention or crisis reaction plan you know are they prepared um i would say generally yes i think though that i mean it was quite you know the pandemic and discussions at the federal level um a lot of it was some states were actually having to change the entire way they voted i mean that's so significant that there were only a few months to adjust almost impossible it could have been a total train wreck and there's a lot of reasons why that didn't happen but when you're talking about such significant changes and it was a pandemic that scared a lot of people a lot of voters that i think the people i think the vote i mean the election officials adjusted very well we really have time for one question and it's a good question from grace gordon bipartisan policy center what functions or issues would you like to see the eac take on continue or sunset in the next 20 years so we we talked a little bit about the quick start guides the eac puts out and those are very helpful for election administrators and there are some for the public geared towards public consumption taking action where to find information back on the accessibility point if we have some guidance not just for election administrators and vendors for standards but also for voters who live in states that haven't adopted accessibility standards yet how can they find accessible means of participating if they can't vote in person that's a heavy lift because there aren't a lot of options out there right now if you're not using technology if your state hasn't adopted a law that allows them to use technology what are your options vote in person or don't vote or waive your right to secret ballot getting assistance voting a paper ballot so some guidance for those voters in states that don't have those laws yet uh maybe something the ac could focus on thank you any any other panelist on that don i wouldn't sunset at the current level from the 20-year history you've got up to this point i don't know of anything that you ought to sunset at this point certainly the ability for you all to do massive publications and distribution of those through every election jurisdiction in america is useful no other organization on in america can do that you guys have got that in spades it seems to me we're going to have to find a way at some point to [Music] figure out a way to use the internet for subject matter to help election officials understand this one of the things i hope you can do at some point is find a way to [Music] educate judges at judicial conferences about what their rulings mean when they rule in certain cases close to an election that it that its impact is enormous in terms of the safety and security of the election trying to get us to change practices and procedures at 180 days out is a nuts way to do things you know if it's important that we change it let's let's change it after this election and and we'll all assign to that but trying to change it during midstream is really difficult because we find out that even though we think we've anticipated everything until you've been through three elections with new rules and new procedures you still learning you know and what you need to do to help the voter have success and so i i just think one area i hope you get into is is working with judicial conferences to help them understand why we do what we do and why it's important for them to maybe follow the guidelines of the supreme court on the purcell rule you know just don't don't be starting to change things now wait until it's over with and then we'll do it okay we're going to call that the lewis rule with that we're going that ends this panel and i i supposed to turn it over to somebody uh is it going to be the dean dean peterson come on up here thank you [Applause] well thank you all it's been a lot of information now how do you process information you process information in community and with adult beverages and thankfully we have that arranged all are invited a few miles north here on coast highway to a place called sprutzos where we have refreshments of all kinds and heavy hors d'oeuvres and again i want to thank all of you i know i'm saying this also to a an audience that is not going to be able to join us up at spruceos so i'm very sorry about that but wanted to thank again our friends at eac this has been the culmination of a lot of work and planning i want to thank the commissioners that have worked with us and pulled this conference together i would be remiss and she hates it every time i say it but if i didn't thank uh really uh the person that makes events happen here at the policy school and that is melissa espinoza here for any of you who've worked with her and our team here as well uh jackie ramirez as well um on the marketing side as well and the rest of our team at the policy school very grateful for them as well so as we say at pepperdine god bless you all thank you for uh your time here also those joining us uh at a distance and we look forward to continuing this conversation as sprutz says i would be remiss i would be remiss if we didn't thank our staff as well kristen and others and especially tyler who came who was no longer with the eac but came here to be a part of this so i want to thank everyone who was involved commissioners and others for all your hard work this would not have been pulled off without that so so thank you