Six Steps to a Safe, Trusted Election in November

By Emily Frye , Marc Schneider , Bill Eidson

Election officials face unprecedented challenges. Cyber interference from Russia, China, and Iran. Misinformation campaigns. Racial division. Hyper-partisan politics. The COVID pandemic. Here are six steps towards a safe, trusted election in November.

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There is one thing every American voter can agree upon—we all want our vote to count.

The challenges before the COVID-19 pandemic were already tough enough: Foreign cyber interference from Russia, China, and Iran. Disinformation campaigns. Racial division. Hyper-partisan politics.

Now, the most fundamental aspect of our democracy—the ability to gather together to choose our leaders—is at heightened risk because of fear of spreading the disease.

At MITRE, we have seen state election officials adapting at record speed to figure out how to hold safe, trustworthy elections in the middle of a pandemic. We know there is a deluge of information—and misinformation—both foreign and domestic. Many voices are offering opinions, advice, and guidance from all directions.

This paper distills the recommendations that we believe represent the best, approaches from official sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), enriched with examples of specific state actions and our own election integrity initiative. Many of our recommendations align with the National Task Force on Election Crises Post-Primary Report, which shares lessons learned from the primary season in time for the November election.

Of course, we recognize that each state must work within unique policies and laws and address the needs and circumstances of its population. But as we look across the states and consider expert advice, we believe there are six key actions that will make voting safer, counter misinformation, and set realistic expectations—and it’s not too late to implement them.

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