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Election integrity watchdog recommends 14 reforms for states to improve election security

"You can go into the November election with the best laws on the books, but if those laws are gutted in your courts [...] then that law is not worth the paper that it’s written on,” Jason Snead said.

Published: January 31, 2024 11:00pm

As the 2024 election cycle begins, the Honest Elections Project releases its report on 14 election reforms that states should make to protect the integrity of elections. 

With the 2024 presidential primary elections underway, a bipartisan election integrity watchdog has released its updated report on election reforms that they say will help secure their elections. Some of these reforms have been considered or implemented in various states since the 2020 presidential election, during which there were numerous irregularities and inequities. 

The Honest Elections Project released its report on Friday, titled, “Safeguarding Our Elections: Critical Reforms to Secure Voter Integrity and Rebuild Confidence in Americans Elections,” listing 14 election reforms that states should implement. 

On Wednesday, Jason Snead, Executive Director of the Honest Elections Project, told reporters on a press call that the watchdog’s original 2021 report was updated this year because "the election integrity fight has changed.” He said that there are new “threats to election integrity that are being pushed from the left,” such as ranked-choice voting, “Zuckerbucks 2.0,” foreign influence through donations, and non-citizen voting. 

"Zuckerbucks" is a phrase used to describe funding from Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which critics say is run by a former Obama Foundation fellow that receives its funding from big tech companies, including more than $350 million in “Zuckerbucks” from Mark Zuckerberg. In turn, CTCL allegedly injects that cash into boosting Democrat turnout in swing states.

According to the report, 14 election reforms that states should make are: 

  1. Ban Ranked-Choice Voting. 
  2. Block “Zuck Bucks 2.0” and other private election funding schemes. 
  3. Stop foreign influence in elections.
  4. Require transparency and robust post-election audits of election processes and procedures.
  5. Ban non-citizen voting in all elections.
  6. Consolidate election dates.
  7. Ensure that elected lawmakers write election laws.
  8. Require prompt and accurate election results.
  9. Maintain clean and accurate voter rolls.
  10. Protect the integrity of the voter registration process.
  11. Secure early and mail voting laws. 
  12. Protect vulnerable mail ballots.
  13. Require Voter ID for every ballot. 
  14. Investigate and prosecute election crimes. 

In the report, the recommended reform of “Ensur[ing] that elected lawmakers write election laws” explains that "Lawmakers, not courts and bureaucrats, make the laws that govern elections. But partisan special interests, spearheaded by left-wing lawyer Marc Elias and allied left-wing groups, use frivolous lawsuits and collusive settlements to weaken and rewrite election laws for political gain.” 

The reform states that “Legislatures should protect their constitutional authority to regulate elections by barring executive agencies from agreeing to legal settlements or consent decrees that substantively alter or weaken election laws. States should prohibit sue-and-settle litigation, in which activists and partisans sue officials to secure an agreement to ignore or effectively rewrite election law.” 

The report cited instances in in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, where “officials contravened state laws following lawsuits and agreed to count absentee ballots that were received late.” 

In a review by The Amistad Project of more than 400 cases regarding the 2020 election, Democratic and left-leaning plaintiffs filed a plurality of election lawsuits, 180 in all. However, only 18% of their cases were won, with 40% lost on the merits and 42% lost on procedural grounds. 

Snead said on Wednesday that “One of the biggest threats that we’re gonna face between now and November is gonna be just a torrent of left-wing litigation.” 

He explained, “We saw the chaos, we saw the confusion, we saw the rules changes that [Mark] Elias and his operation were able to impose on states through the litigation process of 2020. And they’re already starting that up again this year.” 

Snead referenced Elias’ report from early January on election cases to focus on this year. 

“I think litigation is gonna be one of the big, big threats because you can go into the November election with the best laws on the books, but if those laws are gutted in your courts, if those laws are gutted through consent agreements between a Democrat suing a Democrat, then that law is not worth the paper that it’s written on,” Snead said. 

Another significant issue facing states this year is ranked-choice voting, Snead added. Ranked-choice voting (RCV) is an election process being introduced in states across the country, but is facing pushback from both sides of the political aisle, including efforts to ban it. With RCV, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, then a runoff system is triggered. When voters cast their ballots, they rank each candidate in order of first-to-last.  

If one candidate doesn't reach the 50% plus-one vote threshold, then the candidate with the least amount of first-choice votes is eliminated, then second-choice votes from those who voted for the last-place finisher are reallocated among the remaining candidates and tallied – in a process that continues until a candidate receives the majority of the vote. 

RCV proponents argue that the system results in representative outcomes and majority rule, incentivizes positive campaigning, allows for more voter choice, and saves money when replacing preliminaries or runoffs, according to pro-RCV organization FairVote

Alaska and Maine are the only two states to have RCV at the state level, with three U.S. counties and 45 cities using RCV at the local levels. Florida, Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, and Tennessee have banned RCV.  

Efforts are underway to have residents in various states vote on ballot measures for RCV-related constitutional amendments in November, with some measures already set to be voted on in the general election. Many of the ballot measures would implement RCV for presidential primary elections.  

Snead previously told Just the News that RCV presidential primaries are like the California jungle primary system, where there is no party primary and all the candidates run "on a single ballot for each race."  

Snead added that by forcing candidates to seek to win second and third-place votes, they must outsource their negative campaigning to independent expenditure groups. Therefore, campaigns need “more dark money,” he said. 

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