U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL News:
WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced the Voting Innovation Prize Act Thursday to establish an innovation prize to engage the technology community in the effort to strengthen and secure our democracy.
Luján’s legislation will encourage the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to develop solutions to increase access to the ballot box and prevent foreign attempts to compromise our elections.
“Our democracy is at its best when all voices are heard. Unfortunately, whether due to long lines, antiquated voting systems, or restrictive voter laws, too many Americans face too many obstacles to participating in our elections. In addition, Russia attacked our elections in 2016, and is poised to do so again. Congress must take action to increase access to the ballot box and protect our elections,” Luján said. “This competition will tap into America’s innovative spirit to strengthen our democracy.”
Innovation prizes are a tool to engage the private, public, and nonprofit communities to address specific challenges faced by the public. The Voting Innovation Prize Act would award $25 million in annual prize funding for five years to encourage the development of solutions to increase voter participation and improve the integrity and credibility of U.S. elections. Additionally, it would reinforce the efforts of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to improve awareness among election officials about threats to our elections and increase the overall resilience of the election process.
Luján’s bill includes a provision expressing the Sense of Congress that consistent and sustained funding for election support is important to ensure that American elections are secure and free of misconduct. The bill also calls for a broader strategy at the federal, state, and local level to bolster innovation in election security and voting.
This legislation has been endorsed by non-partisan government watchdog group Common Cause.
“Voter participation is essential to a democracy that works for all, and Americans should feel confident about the integrity and security of our election systems,” said Heather Ferguson, executive director of the New Mexico chapter of Common Cause. “We commend Congressman Luján for introducing this legislation, which creates a competition to engage the private, public, and nonprofit communities in addressing critical challenges to our democracy and national security.”