Other Group

Count Every Vote

Parent Organization:

Issue One

Type:

Issue Advocacy Campaign

Count Every Vote is a left-leaning issue advocacy campaign that promotes changes to election laws and advocates for increased funding for election administration. The campaign was founded in 2020 as a $15 million communications campaign to counter then-President Donald Trump’s criticism of mail-in voting. [1]

The campaign is operated by Issue One, a left-leaning advocacy group that promotes left-of-center changes to election laws, increased lobbying restrictions, and increased restrictions on campaign speech. Count Every Vote’s main program is the National Council on Election Integrity, a coalition of 40 former Republican and Democratic national security officials and cabinet members that spent several million dollars on advertising before and after the 2020 election to convince Americans that the presidential election was conducted securely and without foreign interference. [2]

Both Count Every Vote and Issue One are known for partnering with center-right former Republican officials to make the organizations appear bipartisan. Nonetheless, both organizations are connected to the Democracy Alliance network of powerful left-of-center donors, which classifies Issue One as a “recommended organization” and provides financial support to the organization. [3]

Background

The Count Every Vote campaign was founded in 2020 as part of a larger effort by left-leaning groups connected with the Democracy Alliance to prepare for a contested presidential election if then-President Trump refused to concede. Those in the coalition pointed to statements made by Trump casting doubt on mail-in ballots and other aspects of the upcoming election. The organization and connected groups pulled in former elected and national security officials to explore potential emergency powers that President Trump could potentially enact to challenge vote totals in certain states and to provide resources for various challenges to vote totals and the certification process. [4]

The Count Every Vote campaign was founded by Issue One, a left-leaning advocacy group that promotes left-of-center electoral and lobbying policy. Issue One was founded in 2014 when the left-of-center Fund for the Republic and Americans for Campaign Reform merged with one another. The Democracy Alliance, a funding collective of left-of-center political donors, provided institutional backing to Fund for the Republic, coordinating $1.6 million in financial support for the group in 2014. [5]

Issue One has kept its association with the Democracy Alliance and is promoted by the Alliance as a recommended organization. Issue One supports restrictions on lobbying, restrictions on campaign finance, and decreased electoral security measures. [6] In addition to Count Every Vote, Issue One runs the ReFormers Caucus, a group of Democratic and centrist Republican former members of Congress that lobby their former colleagues on changes to campaign finance policy; The Fulcrum, a left-leaning news outlet; Don’t Mess with US, a project focused on foreign interference in elections; and the Rebuild Congress Initiative, which helped to form the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. [7]

Activity

In 2021, Time profiled Issue One as a member of a coalition of predominately left-of-center organizations, including several Black Lives Matter groups, that organized to oppose any legal challenges to the 2020 election results in the event that President Trump refused to concede. [8]

During the 2020 election, the organization formed the National Council on Election Integrity through Count Every Vote, which consisted of 40 former cabinet members and national security officials. Members of the council included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, retired Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Cartwright, former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge (R), and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. [9]

The Council also included elected officials, including former U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA), former Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), and former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). Aside from public officials, the Council included the heads of a number of left-of-center organizations, including National Vote At Home Institute CEO Amber McReynolds, National Urban League president and CEO Marc Morial, former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Donna Brazile, and UnidosUS president and CEO Janet Murguía. [10]

The National Council on Election Integrity also frequently arranged media interviews for members of the Council, including retired Admirals Bill Owens and Mike Rogers, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and former Rep. Curbelo to speak in opposition to challenges to vote totals in key states led by the Trump campaign. [11]

In 2020, the National Council on Election Security announced plans to spend $20 million in advertisements to convince Americans that the 2020 presidential election was accurately counted. The advertisements concentrated on battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. According to Dan Coats, former Director of National Security under President Trump, the focus of the council was to “ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate.” [12]

Following the 2020 election, the National Council on Election Integrity announced an $150,000 advertising purchase to urge Congress to “do its job”[13] on January 6 by officially declaring then-President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the winners of the 2020 election. [14] Following the violent protests that unfolded on January 6 during the breach of the U.S. Capitol, the organization launched an additional $400,000 campaign addressing the nation following the attack, using  it as an opportunity to make a statement in support of left-of-center election policy. The statement accompanying the advertising campaign called for Congress and states to implement new election administration laws and to provide additional funding to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). [15]

References

  1. “About.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://counteveryvote.org/about/ ^
  2. “About.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://counteveryvote.org/about/ ^
  3. “Issue One.” Democracy Alliance. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://democracyalliance.org/organization/issue-one/ ^
  4. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed February 12, 2021. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/ ^
  5. “Issue One – Ballotpedia”. 2017. Ballotpedia.Org. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Issue_One ^
  6. Markay, Lachlan. “Democracy Alliance Network Revealed.” Washington Free Beacon. May 20, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/politics/exclusive-democracy-alliance-network-revealed/ ^
  7. “About.” Issue One. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.issueone.org/about/ ^
  8. Ball, Molly. “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election.” Time. February 4, 2021. Accessed March 4, 2021.  https://time.com/5936036/secret-2020-election-campaign/  ^
  9. “New bipartisan council formed to defend election integrity launches $20 million public education campaign to count every vote.” PR Newswire. October 7, 2020. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-bipartisan-council-formed-to-defend-election-integrity-launches-20-million-public-education-campaign-to-count-every-vote-301147320.html ^
  10. “New bipartisan council formed to defend election integrity launches $20 million public education campaign to count every vote.” PR Newswire. October 7, 2020. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-bipartisan-council-formed-to-defend-election-integrity-launches-20-million-public-education-campaign-to-count-every-vote-301147320.html ^
  11. “About.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://counteveryvote.org/news/ ^
  12. Naylor, Brian. “Former Public Officials Group To Spend $20 Million To Highlight Secure Elections.” NPR. October 7, 2020. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2020/10/07/921163075/former-public-officials-group-to-spend-20-million-to-highlight-secure-elections ^
  13. “Bipartisan National Council On Election Integrity Launches New $150,000 Ad Buy Urging Congress To “Honor The Will Of The People” On January 6th.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://counteveryvote.org/bipartisan-national-council-on-election-integrity-launches-new-150000-ad-buy-urging-congress-to-honor-the-will-of-the-people-on-january-6th/ ^
  14. “Bipartisan National Council On Election Integrity Launches New $150,000 Ad Buy Urging Congress To “Honor The Will Of The People” On January 6th.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021. https://counteveryvote.org/bipartisan-national-council-on-election-integrity-launches-new-150000-ad-buy-urging-congress-to-honor-the-will-of-the-people-on-january-6th/ ^
  15. “Bipartisan National Council On Election Integrity Launches $400,000 Ad Buy Addressing The Recent Assault On Our Democracy And The Path Forward.” Count Every Vote. Accessed March 4, 2021.  https://counteveryvote.org/bipartisan-national-council-on-election-integrity-launches-400000-ad-buy-addressing-the-recent-assault-on-our-democracy-and-the-path-forward/ ^
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