"The most important thing Pennsylvania can do to improve its election security is implement paper ballots with risk-limiting audits."
—The Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security, January 2019

Pennsylvania

Project to Secure & Modernize Elections

Business leaders call on the state legislature to protect election integrity, starting with adequate funding for updated voting equipment

We’re educating and mobilizing Pennsylvania business leaders to support popular, bipartisan initiatives designed to strengthen our democracy by securing elections, encouraging political competition, and increasing citizen participation.
Read our full Pennsylvania Election Reform Agenda »

Business for America invites the Pennsylvania business community to sign our open letter to the PA legislature, urging them to protect our elections and build a secure, modern, accessible election system that all Pennsylvanians can trust. Join us!

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The Problem

Protecting the integrity of our elections is one of our government’s most essential responsibilities. Much like roads, the electric grid, and airports, our election systems are critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s outmoded election systems prevent easy access to the ballot, are unable to ferret out potential fraud, and cannot guarantee that every vote is counted in the 2020 election.

Continued reliance on undependable, 15- to 20-year old election systems calls into question state and local government effectiveness. Business leaders understand that this growing lack of confidence undermines trust in government and is ultimately harmful to Pennsylvania’s business climate and economy. In fact, a 2017 Harvard Business School study found that political dysfunction is the greatest obstacle to U.S. economic competitiveness.

These shortcomings reflect poorly on Pennsylvania and are harmful to the state’s economic reputation and competitiveness. By addressing the root issues of our outmoded election systems and polarized political system, we can start to rebuild trust, solve the crucial challenges facing our state and country, and achieve economic prosperity.

Facts & Figures

  • Pennsylvania’s election security has been rated among the most vulnerable in the nation.
  • In 2017, PA was notified by the Department of Homeland Security that it was one of 21 states whose registration systems Russian hackers tried to penetrate.
  • In 2018, more than 80% of Pennsylvanians voted on machines that have no way to audit and verify the vote count.
  • PA received a “D” grade from a Center for American Progress report assessing state election cybersecurity.
  • Outdated voting machines could be replaced for $9.76 for every Pennsylvanian.

The Current Situation

In April 2018, Governor Wolf issued an executive order requiring all 67 counties to have new equipment with voter-verifiable paper records in place before the 2020 presidential election. Then in November, Wolf’s administration settled a lawsuit that accused Pennsylvania of violating voters’ constitutional rights with continued use of voting machines susceptible to hacking. The settlement requires the state to ensure every Pennsylvania voter uses a “voter-verifiable paper ballot” in 2020.

It is estimated that it will take $125 million to acquire new equipment. The Governor’s 2019 budget calls for the state to provide $15 million per year for five years, for a total of $75 million. State legislators in Harrisburg are grappling with how to come up with the additional revenue — and how much the counties must cover.

The business community needs to weigh in on this critical issue and ensure that adequate funding is allocated to upgrade election equipment across the state.

“We were attacked in 2016. The target was not ships or airplanes or buildings, but the machinery of our democracy. We will be attacked again. We must act — or leave our democracy at risk.”
—Amb. R. James Woolsey, Director of Central Intelligence, 1993-1995

The Business for America Strategy

Business for America is building a statewide network of Pennsylvania business leaders, businesses, and business organizations in support of improvements that will secure and modernize elections in the Keystone State. Our initiative is committed to bipartisan solutions, long-term economic prosperity, and government effectiveness.

Our coalition will encourage legislators to allocate adequate resources to upgrade election equipment, implement regular audits, and take other vital steps to modernize voter participation, such as same-day registration and no-excuse absentee ballots.

Our goals are to:

  • Improve integrity and public trust in our elections
  • Implement modern systems and best practices to minimize risk of fraud and cyberattacks
  • Encourage greater participation by reducing barriers to voting

Our approach starts with the most critical improvements first. The recently issued report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania’s Election Security noted that the “most important thing Pennsylvania can do to improve its election security is implement paper ballots with risk-limiting audits.”

Changing the Debate with a Business Perspective

As systems thinkers, business leaders recognize that the answers lie in addressing the systemic root issues in our political system with practical, bipartisan solutions — starting with broad consensus on improving how elections are run. Business leaders are uniquely positioned to make compelling nonpartisan arguments for election reform.

Engaging Business

During 2019, Business for America will:

  • Build a diverse network of small and mid-sized companies and entrepreneurs from various sectors from rural, suburban, and urban communities across PA.
  • Educate the business community about the economic benefits of well-run elections with a series of roundtables and other events.
  • Deliver a compelling media campaign with a nonpartisan, fiscally-responsible business narrative on the importance of investing in modern election equipment.
  • Mobilize business leaders to engage directly with their local and state legislators on the benefits of modernizing elections.

Your Help is Needed

To learn more about the role that business can play in modernizing Pennsylvania elections, contact us at info@bfa.us.

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