2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren announces sweeping election security and reform plan

Key Points
  • Warren's election reform proposal includes standardized federal election rules, increased federal oversight of elections, and a constitutional amendment guaranteeing voting rights.
  • Warren estimates her plan would cost $20 billion over 10 years, to be generated from increased taxes on the wealthy.
  • Warren's plan includes the federal government replacing every voting machine in the country.
  • She would have federal authorities supervise federal elections in states that do not follow federal rules.
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) addresses the crowd at the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sean Rayford | Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on Tuesday announced a sweeping election reform and security proposal, which includes a constitutional amendment and other significant legislative and policy changes to federal elections.

In a post on Medium, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination estimated her plan would cost $20 billion over 10 years, to be generated from her "Ultra-Millionaire" tax on households worth over $50 million.

Under Warren's plan, state and local authorities would lose much of the autonomy they have in administering federal elections.

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"Our elections are less secure than your Amazon account," Warren said in a tweet announcing the plan. "They're under-resourced and undermined by partisan and racist officials who try to stop people from exercising their right to vote. We need to protect our democracy — and I've got a plan for that."

@ewarren: Our elections are less secure than your Amazon account. They're under-resourced and undermined by partisan and racist officials who try to stop people from exercising their right to vote. We need to protect our democracy—and I've got a plan for that:

Warren advocates for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing voting rights, as well as a list of shorter-term legislative and regulatory proposals to expand voting access.

In states that violate the new regulations, the federal government would intervene to run federal elections.

"Where racist or corrupt politicians refuse to follow the law, the federal government will temporarily take over the administration of their federal elections to guarantee the fundamental right to vote," Warren said.

@ewarren: We need a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to vote. But we can also take action now. The federal government has the power to regulate federal elections, secure our democracy, and put a stop to racist voter suppression.

Warren would eliminate gerrymandering, putting independent commissions in charge of districting for federal elections.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing two cases challenging partisan gerrymandering, with the potential to shape the future of this practice.

A Warren administration would have the federal government replace all existing voting machines nationwide with "state-of-the-art" ones that use a standardized federal paper ballot and supervise tight election security for all elections.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that Russia successfully infiltrated multiple states' voter registration rolls in the 2016 presidential election.

According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, the Russian government also hacked voting machine companies, although there is no evidence that voting machines were hacked or that any votes were changed.

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Warren also aims to expand voter registration and participation, including by requiring automatic registration at government offices, same-day registration at polling places, 15-day early voting, and vote by mail, as well as by making Election Day a national holiday.

Her plan calls for an end to voter roll purges and restrictive voter identification laws, which some have alleged discriminate against poor and minority voters, and for restoring voting rights to all ex-convicts.

Warren would incentivize states to implement the federal reforms in state and local elections by funding any such elections that comply with the regulations, with extra bonuses for high voter turnout.

Warren's announcement came on the eve of the first Democratic debate Wednesday night. Warren is one of the best-known and highest-polling candidates appearing on the first night of the debate.

Warren's plan is similar to those of some of her fellow candidates, including Beto O'Rourke, another prominent contender in Wednesday's debate.