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A Board of Election worker assists a voter during New York's Democratic presidential primary in Brooklyn on June 23, 2020. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Board of Election employees and volunteers wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) assist voters at the Brooklyn Museum polling site for the New York Democratic presidential primary on June 23, 2020. (Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Coalition of Advocacy and Business Groups Call On Election Officials to Uphold 'Sacred Responsibility' to Democratic Principles

"We know you understand the importance of your role in preserving our fragile democracy," the groups wrote. 

Brett Wilkins

With just two weeks remaining until Election Day, a broad coalition of advocacy and business groups on Tuesday urged state election officials to publicly commit to a list of actions to protect electoral integrity and uphold the democratic process.

In an open letter sent to secretaries of state and state election directors across the country, 16 groups—including, Protect Our Election, and Showing Up for Racial Justice—warn "that our democracy is under unprecedented stress."

The letter cites factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as political challenges such as inadequate funding to fully support mail-in voting, disinformation "including baseless claims of voter fraud and exaggerated foreign interference," and long lines as threats to the 2020 election. 

"We, as signatories to this letter, place our trust in you as election administrators," the groups wrote. "We draw strength from our shared democratic tradition, and we know that it is built to withstand the types of challenges we currently face. We know you are working hard to ensure this election will be successful and produce results."

The letter calls on election officials—"regardless of party or political affiliation"—to "unite in support" of a set of "foundational commitments." These include: 

  • Never promoting or amplifying information from partisan or unverified sources and "forcefully refuting disinformation." 
  • Providing regular pre-election public updates on the number of ballots already received, and the percentage of mail-in ballots still outstanding. 
  • Pursuing "every available option to provide for a safe and secure early and absentee voting experience."
  • Taking "active steps to prevent political violence, voter intimidation, and illegal polling place activities." 
  • Working to "accelerate post-election legal challenges by moving [toward] expedited hearings" in relevant courts. 
  • Unanimously resisting "attempts to unlawfully limit or prematurely conclude the counting of all ballots."
  • "Correcting the record with an immediate joint statement" should a candidate "prematurely declare victory."

"We ask you to consider committing to these actions as public affirmation that you will stand up for your constituents by demonstrating your independence and your sacred responsibility to proactively resist narratives designed to undermine our free and fair elections," the letter states. ​"We know you understand the importance of your role in preserving our fragile democracy. We believe that you will succeed."

Steve Wanczyk, executive director of Protect Our Election, said in a separate statement that "our goal with this letter is to encourage America's election officials to come together around a set of shared principles."

"We believe that they will find strength in numbers by making these public commitments to each other and to voters everywhere," he added. 

Meanwhile in the private sector, business leaders from WeTheChange, the American Sustainable Business Council, and the Social Venture Circle launched an allied outreach effort to state election officials. 

WeTheChange co-founder Rose Penelope Yee said in a statement that "we need to ensure that the elections are safe, secure, and fair to prevent any mass confusion, hysteria, or even violence."

"Business operates best in an environment where consumers have confidence in their government and economy," she said. "WeTheChange, a coalition of B Corp women CEOs, are sending letters to state election officials encouraging them to commit to actions that we believe will go a long way toward ensuring the integrity of the election results, and mitigating against racialized violence." 

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