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Zach Wamp / Contributed photo

To make sure Americans know this year's election will be fair and legitimate, a bipartisan mix of more than 40 former elected officials, former Cabinet secretaries, retired military officials and civic leaders has formed an advocacy group to defend it and ensure every vote is counted.

The group — called the National Council on Election Integrity — recently launched a new $20 million public education campaign called "Count Every Vote." The group's mission is to highlight the nation's longstanding history of being able to hold elections, no matter what the circumstance, and to stress the importance that all votes must be counted no matter who they are for.

Zach Wamp, former Republican congressman for Tennessee's 3rd District and a Chattanooga native, told the Times Free Press the initiative will help instill faith in the election so all voters, no matter which party a voter associates with or what state they live in, can accept the results.

(READ MORE: What you need to know to vote in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama)

"This year we're really focused on the election, because there have been some seeds of distrust, by both sides actually," Wamp said. "We must all put country over party to defend the integrity of our electoral processes."

The Count Every Vote project will be kicked off with a $4 million national TV and digital ad push.

President Trump has talked and tweeted for months about how he thinks the results of the election will be fraudulent or rigged. Top Democratic party members have been concerned that Trump has yet to say whether or not he will concede if he loses in November.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Former Rep. Zach Wamp introduces Dr. Manny Sethi at Sethi's field office on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Regardless of the results, Wamp, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and others want to reiterate that a delay in election results this year is a certainty.

"We're going to have an election on November the third," Wamp said. "Some of it happens beforehand because people are voting absentee and voting early in Tennessee. We're probably not going to know on Election Day who won because a lot of the votes are going to be counted after the election day."

Democrats involved in the effort include former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta of California.

In a statement, Frist said the public campaign should remind voters of the United States' history of holding successful elections during challenging times.

"Our country can overcome the public health challenges of the coronavirus pandemic to hold successful elections this year, elections in which every vote is counted and people don't have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote," he said.

Wamp said staying calm post-election is an important thing to remember for Americans.

"This group is sort of charged with bringing the country together after the election and encouraging everyone to vote with confidence," he said. "The whole thing was convened to try to put the country above the party and make sure that, sort of, the adults in the room at the end of the day are there to guide the country."

In such a divisive time in American politics, Wamp said it was essential to have a wide-reaching, bipartisan effort in order to even be taken seriously by the everyday voter.

"We're obviously in the middle of the largest amount of tribalism we've seen at least in my lifetime," he said. "The people that are for one side or for that side no matter what. So the credible organizations are the ones that are not trying to influence the outcome. Everything else seems to be partisan, but some things are more important than the partisan outcome. And in the continuity of government, the peaceful transfer of power is more important than who wins."

For more information on the bipartisan initiative, visit counteveryvote.org.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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