New bipartisan council formed to defend election integrity launches $20 million public education campaign to count every vote

A bipartisan group of more than 40 former elected officials, former Cabinet secretaries, retired military officials, and civic leaders called the National Council on Election Integrity has formed to defend the legitimacy of our elections and ensure that every American’s vote is counted in 2020, Issue One announced today.

The National Council on Election Integrity — which includes individuals who have advised presidents, former party leaders, and heads of some of the largest civic organizations in the country — has launched “Count Every Vote,” a new $20 million public education campaign highlighting the country’s ability to hold safe and secure elections during the coronavirus pandemic and stressing that all citizens’ votes must be counted, regardless of whom they vote for. 

This effort begins with a $4 million TV and digital ad buy. The Count Every Vote campaign’s TV ads will be airing nationally, including in the battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Digital ads will begin running in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

“Americans have always found a way to vote and make their voices heard,” states the new TV ad. “Help make sure every vote is counted — no matter who you voted for … While this election might feel different, we all call America home.”

The Count Every Vote campaign also encourages citizens to sign a pledge at CountEveryVote.org that demands that every vote cast in accordance with applicable laws is counted this November.

Moreover, the National Council is urging Congress to create a bipartisan national commission to help reassure the American public about the integrity of our elections by identifying weaknesses in our elections systems and issuing recommendations to strengthen the resiliency of our election systems and processes.

“The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture,” said former Director of National Security Dan Coats (R-IN).

Added former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD): “This election is about more than who’s on the ballot. The integrity of our democratic system is at stake. That’s why the National Council on Election Integrity is sponsoring a new, bipartisan public education campaign to ensure that every vote cast in accordance with applicable laws is counted in 2020.”

Added former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN): “This new bipartisan public education campaign will remind voters of our history of holding successful elections during challenging times. Our country can overcome the public health challenges of the coronavirus pandemic to hold successful elections this year, elections in which every vote is counted and people don’t have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote.”

Added former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R-NE): “For centuries, the United States has defended itself from our enemies. We must do so again this year by holding elections that are free, fair, honest, safe, and secure.”

Added former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (D-CA): “The bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity will defend the legitimacy of our elections. Every American should have faith that together we, as a nation, can and will reject any effort to undermine our democratic process.” 

Added former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA): “America held successful elections during the Civil War, the Great Depression, and both World Wars. Nothing — not even the coronavirus pandemic — will stand in the way of Americans voting safely and securely this year.”

Added former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO): “No matter who wins or loses, or how long it takes to count the votes, we need a fair and complete vote count. That’s the American way.”

Added former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA): “Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or independent — and regardless of which candidate you support — every American wants to know their ballot has been counted. Signing the pledge at CountEveryVote.org is a way all Americans can take a stand to support this basic principle of our country.” 

Added former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus: “Getting the process right and counting every vote cast in accordance with applicable laws will help instill faith in the election, so everyone can accept the results, regardless of which candidate prevails. We must all put country over party to defend the integrity of our electoral processes.”

Added former Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN), co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus: “The National Council on Election Integrity was established to be a safeguard for the country during this critical period in history. We are also a vanguard against division and dysfunction, as the United States is exposed to our enemies abroad when our democracy is viewed as weak or vulnerable.”

Added former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD): “At a moment when so many people have so little faith in Washington, the National Council on Election Integrity will defend one of the most fundamental building blocks of our democracy — the ballot box. People’s faith in government depends on believing their votes will be counted.”

Added former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL): “As the son of parents who fled Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba, defending the integrity of our elections is personal to me. A public education campaign about the need to count every vote helps defend American democracy and restore trust in both our political system and our government institutions.”

Added former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH): “No matter who you vote for in 2020, you should have confidence that your vote was counted. That’s why it’s important for Republicans and Democrats alike to defend the integrity of our election system which allows for state oversight to all timely challenges and then either a peaceful transition or continuation of power.”

Added former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-CO): “State and local election officials will work tirelessly to tally the votes cast by every American this year. Now is the time for the country to be united in a common commitment to a fair process and pledge to be patient as election officials do their jobs.”

Added UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía: “All Americans deserve to have their voices heard in the 2020 election, and no one should be left out of the process. We should all proudly join this bipartisan effort to ensure that all Americans’ ballots are counted.”

Added retired Adm. Bill Owens, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second most senior military officer in the United States: “Our nation has been a beacon of freedom for 250 years. We must defend our country’s precious democracy and the democratic processes that make it the enduring standard for all time. We must be sure that every vote is counted.”

Added former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R-KY): “In America, our elections have stood the test of time because we have rules and procedures in each state to administer free and fair elections. Together, we can ensure that 2020 is not an exception to our history of holding elections in good times and bad.”

Added former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D-MO): “Nothing — not hyperpartisanship, not a pandemic — will interfere with Americans’ right to vote in a safe and secure election and to have those votes counted accurately. We’re standing up for that, and so should you. Join us at CountEveryVote.org.”

The full list of members of the National Council on Election Integrity — which includes 17 Republicans and 16 Democrats as well as several retired military leaders and heads of civic organizations — is as follows:

  1. former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright 
  2. former Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)
  3. former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile
  4. former Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D-MO) 
  5. retired Gen. James Cartwright, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  6. former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff
  7. former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (R-IN) 
  8. former Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA)
  9. former Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL)
  10. former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD)
  11. former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)
  12. former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)
  13. former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO)
  14. former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R-KY) 
  15. former Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-WI)
  16. former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
  17. former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN)
  18. former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA)
  19. former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
  20. National Vote At Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds
  21. former Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta (D-CA)
  22. former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-NY)
  23. former Amb. Connie Morella (R-MD), co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus
  24. National Urban League President and CEO Marc Morial
  25. UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía
  26. Dr. Lori Esposito Murray, president of the Committee for Economic Development
  27. former Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC)
  28. former Rep. David Obey (D-WI)
  29. retired Adm. Bill Owens, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  30. former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (D-CA)
  31. former Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
  32. former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH)
  33. former Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI)
  34. former Gov. Tom Ridge (R-PA), former Secretary of Homeland Security
  35. former Amb. Tim Roemer (D-IN), co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus
  36. retired Adm. Michael Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency
  37. former Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar (D-CO)
  38. former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele
  39. former Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), co-chair of Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus
  40. former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
  41. former Sen. Tim Wirth (D-CO)