A new report published by Issue One underscores three existential threats facing U.S. elections and calls for federal action to address these troubling trends, including combatting election disinformation, preventing efforts to subvert future elections, increasing federal and state funding for elections, and protecting election workers from threats of violence.
“Free and fair elections are the backbone of democracy, and ours are under attack by partisans who only seek political gain,” said Issue One Founder and CEO Nick Penniman. “The threats facing our democracy must be defeated with a swift government response that prevents any future effort to sabotage our elections, and a serious and ongoing commitment by social media companies to prevent the dangerous spread of election disinformation. We must treat this crisis as the national emergency that it is.”
The three existential threats are: 1) an exodus of election officials due to threats and harassment, 2) the potential of election manipulation by partisan actors, and 3) inadequate funding of our critical election infrastructure.
“In the wake of a massive and coordinated disinformation effort during the 2020 elections, election officials and election workers — who do the behind-the-scenes work of running our elections and ensuring their safety and accuracy — have faced threats of violence and harassment,” the new report from Issue One states, contributing to the mass retirement of election workers. According to a recent survey by the Brennan Center for Justice, 17% of local election officials have been threatened and 32% have felt unsafe because of their job. And a recent survey by Democracy Fund found that just 49% of local election officials are certain they won’t leave their roles in the next four years.
The report also highlights efforts to manipulate our elections by bad actors across the country. “As so many election officials and election workers leave these roles, there’s been an influx of hyperpartisan, anti-democracy candidates for these important positions — individuals who continue to deny the results of the 2020 presidential election,” the report highlights.
Two out of three contests for governor and secretary of state this year include an anti-democracy, election denier candidate, according to States United Action. If elected, such individuals will be in positions to hijack the management of elections for partisan gain. They could enact changes to fundamental election and voting practices that could lead to an outright reversal of the will of voters.
Finally, the report discusses the inadequate funding of our election infrastructure. Election administrators relied heavily on private philanthropy to execute the 2020 election after Congress failed to deliver adequate levels of funding that states, counties, and cities needed, but future elections should not have to depend on private philanthropy to run smoothly and safely.
Read the full report, “3 Existential Threats to Our Elections.”