With a global pandemic, historic unemployment, and civil unrest, 2020 is one of the most tumultuous and unpredictable election years in decades. Americans are concerned with not only the results of the election, but with the integrity of the process itself.
To provide insight on the threats to election integrity and how Americans are feeling towards the issue, State Policy Network held a webinar with Jason Snead, executive director of the Honest Elections Project, and Brett Loyd, president and CEO of the polling company. SPN’s Carrie Conko facilitated the discussion that touched on how state think tanks can engage on this issue in a productive and constructive way.
election problems foreshadow a bleak picture come November 3
- Election integrity
is going to be a white-hot issue. Given the fact that we are likely in for
delayed results or a potentially contested election, this could be the defining
political issue until the end of this year and into next.
- The pandemic
prompted a nationwide political push to rush into place wholesale changes to
the way we vote. If the pandemic primaries are any indication, and if we rely
on a similar process in November, the election could be confusing and chaotic.
- We’re seeing automatic ballot mailings that have huge numbers of undeliverable ballots. There was a vote fraud scandal in New Jersey and a six-week delay in election results in New York. Some voters were stuck in unconscionably long polling lines because jurisdictions decided to execute plans for widespread precinct closures. States with little experience handling or processing mail-in voting have struggled to meet demands for ballots or develop the procedures to process and tally them.
- If we continue on
this course for the fall election, we are opening the door for widespread voter
confusion, delayed results, potential fraud, and significant post-election
litigation that could determine the outcome of the election itself.
A push for universal vote-by-mail
Policymakers and activists who have long advocated for changes that would alter and undermine the integrity of elections are seizing on the pandemic as an opportunity for reform. For instance, Democrats in Congress are pushing for legislation that would mail ballots to every voter registration on file, even though voter rolls are rife with outdated and inaccurate entries. We’ve also seen some states going to or considering going to vote-by-mail.
also claim that this is the time to do away with voter identification laws, “vote
harvesting” bans, ballot receipt deadline statutes, absentee ballot witness
signature matching laws, and even laws that require voters who want to vote
absentee to ask for an absentee vote.
However, many of these proposals are unpopular with Americans since they have the potential to undermine election integrity. For instance, mail ballots are three times more likely to rejected than ballots cast in person for a myriad of reasons, including arriving after the deadline and mismatched signatures.
believe elections need to be fair, honest, and free of fraud
- The polling
company, in partnership with the Honest Elections Project, conducted a survey
among 1,200 registered voters nationwide.
- 90% believed voters
who cast absentee ballots should have to comply with voter identification
requirements, like they would with in-person voting places.
- 90% agree that only
people who are registered to vote in a state should be able to vote in that
- 90% think actions
should be taken to ensure voting in the United States is done more fairly and
with greater integrity.
- 67% believe fraud
occurs in American elections.
- 67% acknowledged
that mailing everyone a ballot while legalizing vote harvesting will only
increase the probability of fraud.
- The poll found that
voters understand that voting rights depend on a fair process that gives each
vote meaning. It’s not enough to simply cast a ballot, you have to know that
ballot will be counted. In other words, Americans want safeguards that prevent
voting from becoming a free-for-all and ensure the process has fairness, order,
- Protecting the
right to vote is more than casting ballots, it’s about protecting a fair and
honest election system resonates with voters across the political spectrum
and speaks to how much voters want and desire these safeguards.
- Partisan messaging
didn’t resonate with people (“mail-in voting is bad because it gives
Democrats/Republicans a political advantage”).
- The poll also
tested whether people would prefer it to be easy to vote or hard to cheat. It found
that people want it to be easy to vote for those who want to vote, but they
have to go through the necessary steps to do so. Another way of putting it, Americans
want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.
Watch the webinar on SPN’s Member Portal here.
The Unnecessary Risks of Mandated and Rushed Vote-by-Mail
Honest Elections Project
Put an End to “Vote Harvesting”
Honest Elections Project
Best Practices for Achieving Integrity in Voter Registration
Public Interest Legal Foundation
Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention