Alyssa Milano has become one of Hollywood’s leading activists in the Trump era, taking on issues like abortion, gun safety and sexual harassment. In 2020, she is turning her attention to a new fight: ballot security.
Along with other entertainment industry figures, Milano is launching a campaign against electronic voting machines and electronic “ballot marking devices.” She argues that only paper ballots are secure, and any voting machine with an internet connection is at risk of foreign hacking.
“Look, if we don’t have secure elections, we’re done,” Milano told Variety in an interview. “Because the country is so divided, it is essential that voters can trust the results of the election.”
Milano is also working on a campaign to defeat President Trump in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the three battleground states where he narrowly won in 2016. Dubbed the “2020 Fund,” the effort aims to boost the Democratic nominee through grassroots get-out-the-vote efforts.
On ballot security, she is working with the National Election Defense Coalition, a non-partisan group that advocates for paper ballot voting systems, and the advocacy group Free Speech For People. Other celebrities who are involved include Alec Baldwin, Glenn Close, Henry Winkler, Melissa Etheridge, Ken Olin, Sterling K. Brown, Ron Perlman, Patricia Arquette, Katey Sagal, Yvette Nicole Brown, Frances Fisher, Rosie O’Donnell and Danny Zuker.
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In December, the NEDC filed suit against the state of Pennsylvania, challenging the certification of the ExpressVote XL machine. The touchscreen machine has been approved for three counties, including Philadelphia County. In local elections last November, the machines malfunctioned, turning out inaccurate results that had to be corrected using paper backups. The manufacturer, Election Systems & Software, argued that the backup worked as intended, and the outcome was a fair and accurate tally.
“We want to get all voting machines that have modems in them disconnected,” Ben Ptashnik, executive director of the NEDC. “We want to challenge these machines so elections officials don’t foolishly buy them. We need a very public campaign to push for this.”
Ptashnik said the group is also likely to file suit in other states.
Election security again became a front-burner issue again following the fiasco in the Iowa Democratic Caucus, in which a coding error in the party’s vote-counting app caused a prolonged delay in the results.
The group of celebrity activists — dubbed the Creative Arts Council — is also highlighting the testimony of Special Counsel Robert Mueller last July, in which he warned that Russia would seek to interfere in the 2020 election.
“They’ve done it before, there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t do it again,” Milano said. “I think election integrity and election security is probably the most important fight right now.”
She added, “If we don’t fix this, we’ve got to turn out in numbers that are too big to rig.”