CNAS, CERL, and APPC Announce Collaboration on Protecting Integrity of 2020 Election Against Foreign Interference

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is pleased to announce a collaboration with the Center for Ethics and Rule of Law (CERL) and the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC), both of the University of Pennsylvania.

The three collaborators of this short term, high impact project will convene national security and legal policy professionals and academics at the forefront of research and engagement in foreign interference in democratic elections issues, foreign intelligence activities, and election administration and security. The project aims to assess the level of foreign malign activities on the forthcoming 2020 elections, identify efforts to prevent such influence, and develop strategies that will help to ensure voter confidence in the integrity of the election process and its outcome. The project will run from June 2020 through the November elections.

Carrie Cordero, Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at CNAS, said: “Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election was a deliberate attempt by a foreign power to influence American voter attitudes and affect the outcome of the presidential election. Malign foreign actors continued their activities during the 2018 midterm elections. As we approach November 2020, American institutions and citizens must understand that foreign influence on our domestic elections is an assault on our democracy, and learn what we can do to protect the administration—and ensure confidence in the outcome—of this highly consequential election.”

The project will produce written commentaries, podcasts, and a fall conference. Activities will be conducted primarily in public forums and be accessible to a broad policy, media, and public audience.

Claire Finkelstein, CERL Faculty Director and Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at Penn Law, commented: “The 2016 U.S. presidential elections, as well as elections in Europe and elsewhere, taught us that foreign-sourced propaganda is becoming one of the central security issues of our time. Making use of what we have learned to ensure the integrity of our elections is one of the most important challenges facing the rule of law today. This project with CNAS and APPC will bring together experts whose writings and podcasts will educate the public and help advance expert analysis on this vital issue. I am excited about this collaboration.”

In addition, the project will develop content for unique teaching material about foreign interference in a constitutional democracy in collaboration with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, ensuring a wide public audience for understanding and addressing this foundational national security and civic challenge.

“Our system of government is premised on the integrity of our election process and public confidence in it,” noted Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “We need to aggressively safeguard both.”

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