Businesses Can Still Step Up to Support a Safe, Secure Election
Amidst public health and security challenges, there are new nonpartisan tools to help companies get involved in the final days of the campaign
by Sarah Bonk and Ben Ptashnik
The Operation Vote Safe 2020 Action Map is an interactive dashboard to help election officials advertise their needs for specific materials and for companies to fulfill those needs.
There’s a growing consensus in America’s private sector: a smooth, secure, and accessible election is essential to our economic stability. Analysts at JP Morgan Chase recently concluded that the market will respond less to the question of which candidate is elected and more to the question of whether there is a well-administered contest with a clear result and peaceful transfer of power.
As members of the business community, our interest in successful election administration shouldn’t simply be about economic questions. It’s about the integrity of our institutions.
While election management should never be privatized, serious unmet needs remain amidst record turnout, the demands of the pandemic, unprecedented cybersecurity risks, and limited public investment.
One election administrator summed up the situation in a recent conversation: “It’s like we’re looking under the sofa cushions for resources.”
A diverse coalition of companies around the US is participating in a new initiative called Operation Vote Safe, lending essential time-sensitive support to election administrators around the country.
The vision of Operation Vote Safe is to connect private sector players with resources to help voters and election officials in need. We call on all American businesses to join this movement.
The Operation Vote Safe 2020 Action Map is a new interactive dashboard to help election officials to advertise their needs for specific materials and for companies to fulfill those needs either directly or through a new online PPE marketplace.
While every jurisdiction is different, nearly all need volunteer poll workers — which many businesses are in a position to provide by giving employees time off. Others need in-kind support, like face masks, disinfecting spray, and hand sanitizer.
Businesses can also support individual voter efforts by removing barriers, such as providing paid leave for voting, reliable voting information, and amplifying voter education efforts launched by secretaries of state.
Beyond these efforts, businesses can also play an important role in cyber security education and advocacy. It’s important that governors and election administrators around the country implement final contingency plans for various cyber issues. Business can let election administrators know about the importance of providing backup paper ballots in case of malfunctioning electronic voting systems as well as paper backups of electronic poll books.
Everyone from progressive advocacy groups to President Trump are in agreement on the importance of paper ballots. Leading experts in computer science and cyber security are unanimous that election administrators need to ensure their availability and focus on contingency planning.
As businesspeople, we come from different industries and different political backgrounds, yet we see growing agreement in the private sector around a core agenda for election integrity. It hinges on these essential, nonpartisan, time-sensitive priorities of ensuring the availability of resources for election administration, the provision of vital supplies for dealing with the pandemic, and adequate safeguards to deal with cybersecurity contingencies.
There are time-sensitive, low-cost, high-impact ways that companies can take a stand for the common good — but time is running out. You and your business can make a difference by taking action today.
Sarah Bonk is Founder & CEO of Business for America, a nonpartisan nonprofit business group, focused on restoring US civic health and promoting civic participation by the business community.
Ben Ptashnik is President of the National Election Defense Coalition, a former Vermont State Senator, and entrepreneur.