Washington, DC; December 13, 2019. Election Reformers Network has received an 18-month grant to support its work to address conflicts of interest at the state chief election officer level.
“This is an important but complicated and neglected area of reform, so we are thrilled to have the support of an organization with the sophistication of the Democracy Fund,” said Kevin Johnson, Executive Director of Election Reformers Network.
The project responds to the fact that the U.S. is unique in the world of democracies in relying on partisan elections to fill the most senior election administrative positions. Chief election officers (the secretary of state in most states) are often leading members of competing political parties and often compete in the elections they supervise. The resulting conflicts of interest are mitigated to some extent by our decentralized election processes, and by the noteworthy ethical standards of our election professionals. But such conflicts can pose considerable risks to the electoral process and to citizen confidence.
ERN has also received substantial pro bono legal research support for the project from the law firm of Ropes & Gray.
The Democracy Fund grant will allow ERN to deepen its ongoing research into the scale and impact of chief election officer conflicts of interest, to develop and test appropriate policy responses, and to build a broad coalition to advance reform.
The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation established by eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar to help ensure that the American people come first in our democracy.
Election Reformers Network is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in January 2017 by election experts with extensive experience in the United States and more than 70 other countries over the past 30 years. ERN’s founders played key roles in ending apartheid in South Africa and communist dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe, helping to lead America’s contribution to the great expansion of democracy of the past half century. ERN leverages this expertise to support nonpartisan election reforms that can reduce polarization and increase public confidence in U.S. democratic institutions. ERN has been actively promoting reforms such as ranked choice voting and independent redistricting, while also developing new approaches in areas including presidential election reform.