Statement from The Council of State Governments’ Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on Elections Improvements
Free and fair elections serve as the cornerstone of a democratic system of governance. Providing an efficient and accurate voting system, and securing such a system against the threat of fraud and manipulation, is a challenge as old as our nation itself, one which states successfully have met. But these times, in which there are unsupported allegations of voter fraud and the potential of election systems being hacked by enemies foreign and domestic, bring both new needs and new opportunities for federal, state and local elections officials. As technologies advance to offer opportunities to strengthen state and local election officials’ capacities to carry out elections, opportunities also emerge to jeopardize our voting systems.
As an experienced convener of the nation’s most seasoned elections officials, The Council of State Governments stands ready to assist in addressing the complex issues facing the American elections system.
CSG and its Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, a bipartisan group that fosters intergovernmental partnerships and strong federal-state relations, is uniquely positioned to facilitate a constructive and comprehensive dialogue about the state of our nation’s election system. In addition, CSG has researched technologies that can support, strengthen and secure the nation’s election system.
In CSG’s 2016 The Book of the States—an annual publication that features key analysis on a range of topics—an article titled, Modern Elections: Are We There Yet? detailed voting technology concerns and possible solutions. Voting equipment in most jurisdictions across the country hasn’t been replaced or updated since the early 2000s. According to a 2016 report by the Brennan Center for Justice, jurisdictions in 43 states use voting machines that are at least 10 years old; jurisdictions in 14 states use machines that are at least 15 years old. In the meantime, technologies have advanced dramatically in that period, demonstrating the potential to both increase accuracy in elections and secure voting systems against fraud and other threats.
Efforts to improve the efficacy of election systems, however, cannot be successful without thoughtful consideration, strategic planning and resource prioritization by stakeholders at every level of government.
CSG has demonstrated its experience and commitment to convening diverse groups of elections officials—representing all levels of government, branches and political affiliation—to address critical challenges facing the nation’s elections systems, including emerging technologies that can help ensure free, fair and secure elections are carried out.
About The Council of State Governments
Founded in 1933, The Council of State Governments is the nation’s only nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.
CSG has a long history of serving as an impartial convener of state and federal leaders to provide the nation’s public servants with information and resources on a range of policy issues to better serve constituents.
Through the deployment of multiple bipartisan working groups of local, state and federal election officials, CSG has advanced state policy solutions to ensure that our military and overseas voters—and specifically the local and state election administrators who serve them—have the necessary tools, policies and procedures they need to ensure that all military and overseas citizens’ ballots are cast and counted as efficiently, accurately and securely as possible. This effort was made possible through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program. For more information about the CSG Overseas Voting Initiative or to read recommendations by OVI’s policy and technology working groups, visit csg.org/ovi.
For more information about The Council of State Governments, visit csg.org.