The American Bar Association announced the creation of the ABA Task Force for American Democracy and its Advisory Commission on Aug. 9 to look at ways to improve public confidence and trust in the U.S. election system.
The task force is co-chaired by former Judge J. Michael Luttig, who served on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit from 1991 to 2006, and former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson (2013-2017). The members of the task force include thought leaders, lawyers, former elected officials and business leaders, among others, who represent a bipartisan group of recognized national leaders with expertise in American government, democracy and the rule of law.
The focus of the task force will be in three areas:
- Depoliticizing the administration of elections
- Educating the public on the principles of democracy and driving ownership of those principles into the American culture
- Identifying and advancing improvements and innovations in U.S. systems of elections that will address the root causes of the current politicization and lack of trust in elections and in democracy.
To accomplish its mission, the task force will host listening tours and public conversations, as well as one-on-one discussions, with a broad spectrum of Americans to hear their concerns, experiences and suggestions for restoring and preserving American democracy.
“Our democracy is in peril,” said ABA President Mary Smith, who created the task force. “Attempts to overturn election results, the politicization of election processes, and threats to election administrators and election officials have shown the necessity for the bar, the business community and all Americans to act to fortify our democracy. The nation’s more than 1.3 million attorneys represented by the ABA have a special obligation and responsibility to step up and speak out in defense and support of our imperiled democracy.”
Former ABA President R. William “Bill” Ide will serve as vice chair of the task force.
“Our country, our institutions of government and governance, the institutions of our democracy and our institutions of law and law enforcement are under vicious, unsustainable and unendurable attack,” Luttig said. “I am honored to be invited by ABA President Mary Smith to co-chair this distinguished Task Force for American Democracy with Secretary Johnson in this vital effort for our country.”
In a July poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, only 10% of people surveyed said democracy is working very or extremely well while 49% said it was not working well at all.
“I’ve had the privilege to serve the nation in various capacities,” said Johnson. “Co-chairing this task force with Judge Luttig may be my greatest service, as the continued viability of our democracy is at the root of all else in government.”