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Immigrant Entrepreneurship: Economic Potential and Obstacles to Success

June 13, 2022

As a long-standing immigration destination, the United States has depended on the entrepreneurial contributions of immigrants as an economic driver. While much of the current immigrant entrepreneurship discussion centers on high-tech start-ups and Fortune 500 companies 1, immigrants create businesses of all sizes that help fuel American economic growth. The U.S. Census' 2007 and 2012 Survey of Business Owners (SBO) found that immigrants had formed about 25% of new businesses in the United States, with rates surpassing 40% in some states. Immigrants are also 10% more likely to own their own business than U.S. natives. Simply put, the United States' economic success story would not exist without immigrant entrepreneurs with a range of backgrounds and skill levels who were willing to launch their business ideas here. This report shows a consistent set of drivers and barriers that impact immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States, and outlines recommendations for policymakers at all levels of government to better support these entrepreneurs and enable a more robust U.S. economy.

Preparing for Ballot Paper Shortages in 2022 and 2024

June 6, 2022

The U.S.-China trade war, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war have spurred upheaval and uncertainty in an increasingly interconnected global market. Product shortages and soaring prices are fixtures in national news headlines; American voters rate the economy as their top concern for the 2022 midterm elections. Supply chains won't only be on the ballot this November, they'll also shape how and when Americans get their ballots to begin with.Paper is foundational to American election administration. Yes, the paper needed for our beloved "I Voted" stickers—but also the paper that is used to create ballots, ballot envelopes, voter registration forms, and other essential elections collateral. Voter-verified paper ballots, the gold standard of secure elections, typically require high-quality paper types. Ballot materials demand specialized production, intentional delivery, and secure storage.Long-term trends, exacerbated by recent market factors, have put the supply of paper for the midterm elections at risk. Paper orders that once took days or weeks are now taking months. Costs have increased by 40% or more.This report by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections outlines three challenges for election administration created by the global paper shortage: supply, timing, and cost. Within each category, the task force offers actionable recommendations for election officials and policymakers on how to administer secure elections amid supply chain disruptions both in 2022 and future elections.

Reimagining Federal Election Funding

April 19, 2022

The smooth execution of elections is a cornerstone of our democracy, yet elections in the United States are chronically—and, in some cases, hazardously—underfunded. The majority of existing funding comes from state and local sources, with only intermittent, discretionary federal appropriations.Inadequate funding leads to antiquated technology and equipment, understaffed election offices, and overworked officials. The 2020 election exposed this reality when election officials had to bootstrap a contentious election amid a pandemic. Private funders stepped in to fund aspects of the voting process that should be resourced by the government.Recent federal appropriations for election security in the fiscal year 2018, FY2020, FY2022, and through the CARES Act in 2020 have incentivized states to make investments in their elections processes; however, relying on one-off discretionary "money drops" of varying amounts is an inefficient and inadequate way to provide funding when election officials need consistency and predictability. Foreign cybersecurity threats in the 2016 election and unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 election have resulted in renewed public attention to the intricacies of the U.S. election system. The American public demands election security and accessibility. This cannot happen without proper funding. Regular, continuous federal funding for elections would allow state and local governments to budget for the short, medium, and long term.With so many competing priorities for the annual budgeting process, creating a reliable federal funding source for elections requires a separate, dedicated approach. Fortunately, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) provides an existing mechanism to do just that.

The Dangers of Partisan Incentives for Election Officials

April 6, 2022

Election administrators are expected to perform their duties in a nonpartisan manner, even when the elections they administer lead to outcomes they do not personally endorse. Many election officials are elected in partisan elections or selected by members of political parties. This party affiliation means that these individuals experience motivation or encouragement derived from their party, a dynamic that we will refer to as reactions to partisan incentives.The growing susceptibility to partisan incentives in election offices undermines the expectation that elections will result in legitimate winners. While, in the past, the individuals administering the elections process operated with relative obscurity, party leaders have targeted them and their offices in the hopes of controlling the voting process. This amplified attention may incentivize extreme partisans to attempt to subvert, undermine, or overturn an election. Acting with political self-interest, partisan officials could use their power to undermine legitimate and fair elections and overturn the will of the people.The threat is no longer theoretical. If Americans intend to maintain a democratic system of government, we must reimagine election administration to reduce or remove partisan incentives and strengthen the firewall between politics and the administration of the voting process.

Balancing Security, Access, and Privacy in Electronic Ballot Transmission

March 28, 2022

Trade-offs are inherent to election administration. Election officials and policymakers must regularly make decisions that restrict or expand voter access, detract or enhance election security, and reduce or enshrine voter privacy. These decisions ought to be simple: policymakers should prioritize expanding privacy, security, and access over restricting it.The electronic transmission of ballots is a direct embodiment of this conflict. Election officials and cybersecurity experts agree that electronic ballot return yields vulnerabilities that cannot be mitigated while preserving ballot privacy. Despite the vulnerabilities, electronic ballot transmission is crucial in ensuring that citizens unable to vote through traditional voting methods (such as mail or in-person voting) can still cast a ballot. Electronic ballot return is already being utilized to some extent in at least 31 states, particularly for military and overseas voters. Despite its fairly extensive adoption, there remains almost no real conversation among election experts about how to do it well and what policy options facilitate those practices.This paper strives to provide state lawmakers and election officials with thoughtful and proactive guidance on how to improve the administration of electronic ballot transmission. Rather than focus on the expansion or removal of electronic ballot transmission options, it outlines best practices that are informed by the learned experiences of election administrators, cybersecurity experts, and accessibility advocates.

Climate Migration: The State of Play on National, International, and Local Response Frameworks

March 25, 2022

According to government data, 2021 was a year of climate disasters: The U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar disasters, putting the year in second behind 2020, which had a record 22 separate billion-dollar events. The number and cost of weather and climate disasters are increasing across the world, with a dire climate report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday, February 28, warning that climate change, and climate disasters, will "redistribute populations on a planetary scale."Despite the increased attention being paid to the phenomenon of climate migration, substantive recommendations and solutions to this growing occurrence are few and far between at the local, national, and international levels. The lack of a dedicated international mechanism for climate migrants as well as local and national solutions has forced many to seek protections under existing international legal mechanisms, such as refugee and asylum laws, which were not designed for this new type of migration. Many of the international initiatives addressing migration more generally are non-binding, meaning that they provide a framework for signatory countries to follow, but do not compel those signatory countries to take specific actions, leaving an international patchwork of responses to a growing global phenomenon.

Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform

January 20, 2022

Stark partisan dividing lines in Congress currently distract from potential areas of common ground in fostering an election system that puts voters first by being fair, accessible, secure, and transparent. These crucial topics include voter registration, voter identification, options to vote before Election Day, clean and accurate voter rolls, and audits.This report outlines a realistic framework for bipartisan election legislation. If implemented, this framework would massively improve election administration and Americans' voting experience.Federal election legislation, while rare, has a long track record of being bipartisan. For as much attention as members of Congress and the public have paid to how Americans vote, the most recent comprehensive elections bill passed in October 2002. But the urgent need for shoring election infrastructure becomes more obvious with each election.This report authored by a working group of five nonprofit think tanks elevates the election and voting reforms that have gotten lost in the highly partisan federal debate about elections. The working group comprises individuals from five nonprofit think tanks from across the political spectrum: Bipartisan Policy Center, American Enterprise Institute, Issue One, R Street Institute, and Unite America. The data used in this report is sourced from Voting Rights Lab. We came together to publish this report to ensure that important concepts—such as accessible voter registration and accurate voter rolls—are understood to be nonpartisan proposals that will improve elections and not benefit one party more than another.

Policy to Advance Good Faith Election Observation

January 10, 2022

This report outlines policy best practices for election observers and challengers. The set of recommendations is unanimously endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center Task Force on Elections, a diverse group of state and local election officials from across the country. Election officials have the best perspective for how election policy works when put into practice. To secure the integrity of the 2022 and 2024 elections, we need look no further than the dedicated professionals long committed to our democracy.The recommendations made in this report stand to ensure accountability and transparency in the administration of elections. For maximum effectiveness, the recommendations should be considered as a unified set. Election administration is a complex ecosystem: Changes to one policy have upstream and downstream impacts for countless other parts of the process. This set of recommendations anticipates those impacts and works cohesively to address them.

Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System

December 2, 2021

Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System defines a vision for a modernized public health system in the 21st century and provides a framework of practical, prioritized, and bipartisan actions for policymakers and public health officials to guide strategic investments and decision-making to help translate the vision into a reality with a focus on equity. The federal government continues to provide critical leadership and funding to navigate the current pandemic and has a responsibility to make significant investments and changes in public health for the post-pandemic future. Long-term, increased, sustainable funding and policy leadership from the federal government will be crucial to support this five-year vision, framework, and set of actions, as most public health departments are concerned over their funding levels, notwithstanding the recent infusion of money.

Bipartisan Principles for Election Audits

November 8, 2021

This report aims to outline what a secure, precise, trustworthy audit of an election should look like in every state. Recommendations in the report include that audits should take place before the results are certified, that election officials must maintain custody of the ballots during audits, and that audits should be open to the public for observation. Extralegal investigations in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin do not meet most of the unanimously endorsed recommendations put forward in the report.

Redefining Border Security

May 20, 2021

While the framework at the border for dealing with crossings has not substantively changed in decades, the recent changes in the makeup of migrant flows at the border require a new framework for addressing "border security." Given the large number of arrivals of children and families seeking asylum, which is legal under U.S. law, it is necessary to address the arrivals separately from the needs of securing the border from threats such as smuggling, contraband, or migrants seeking to evade capture. Specifically, the United States needs to set up separate systems for receiving and processing asylum seekers and vulnerable populations at the border and apprehending and processing other immigrants trying to make illegal entries.The following outlines recommendations for a new framework that recognizes a fundamental shift in migrant demographics at the border and the different components needed for dealing with each activity. Together, they provide a comprehensive approach to securing the border against crime, drugs, and terrorism, while addressing unauthorized migration and meeting legal obligations to receive and decide asylum claims.

Improving the Voting Experience After 2020

April 6, 2021

A report by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Task Force on Elections that outlines ways to enhance local election administration in light of issues surrounding the 2020 U.S. election. The authors list twelve recommendations on topics ranging from emergency election procedures to ballot return standardization to expanding early voting and more, with the goal of meaningfully improving voters' access to a secure ballot.