• Description

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.

Reimagining Federal Election Funding