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.