Nonpartisan Report Recommends Proposals for Safeguarding Elections

February 9, 2023

A report released Thursday from the nonpartisan National Task Force on Election Crises detailed proposals for combating mis- and dis-information that have arisen amid recent U.S. elections.

The report asserts that while efforts such as greater communication, transparency, and coordination combated information threats during the 2022 midterm campaign season, serious concerns remain as the 2024 election approaches. 

“Two years after the turbulent election of 2020 and its troublesome aftermath that put into question the stability of our elections, the last election has offered us a way forward in reducing the risk of certain election crises in 2024 and beyond,” said Trey Grayson (R), former Kentucky Secretary of State and former President of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “But while the risk of some of the worst forms of election crisis has fallen, complacency is not an option as serious threats of election crisis remain.”

The task force targeted several categories of challenges and potential crises to be closely monitored in 2023 and 2024, including: 

  • Efforts by elected officials to attempt to manipulate the outcome of the 2024 presidential election in battleground states;
  • “Constitutional sheriffs” and their growing focus on election issues;
  • The risk of election interference and manipulation through litigation;
  • The need for states to update their election codes as a result of the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, which updated rules for presidential elections and cut off certain paths for election subversion;
  • The independent state legislature theory and the implications of the eventual decision, particularly a maximalist ruling;
  • Ongoing election security risks from foreign governments via cyber attacks, deliberate disinformation, or other disruptions;
  • And a heightened climate of political violence which increases the risk of multiple forms of crisis, and increases the urgency for violent actors to be held responsible.

“While the most feared threats to election administration and vote counting did not materialize in 2022, that doesn’t mean that the elevated risks to our elections have disappeared and we can lower our guard,” said Wendy Weiser, Vice President for Democracy at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law. “We need to make commonsense reforms to strengthen our electoral system ahead of 2023 and 2024, giving voters more protection against election subversion, intimidation, and other interference.”

The task force also suggested potential reforms, including:

  • Election administration and security: Sustain and expand crisis-tested voting options, including early voting and mail-in voting—and ensure sufficient funding for election equipment, supplies, security, personnel retention, and educating voters about election mechanics
  • Legal reforms: States should examine election emergency statutes and where appropriate make updates to provide more predictable and depoliticized means of election modification for emergency situations, and where necessary make changes to conform with the Electoral Count Reform Act on this issue and more broadly
  • News media and social media platforms: Downgrade or delete rather than label election-related disinformation, and speed up processes for labeling/removing posts
  • Civil society involvement: Increase investments in work to prevent political violence, including through projects to research and defuse intense polarization that can lead to violence

“As a country, election crises and the threat of political violence directed towards election officials and voters cannot be the new normal,” said Tammy Patrick, Chief Executive Officer for Programs at the Election Center. “The recommendations to prevent extremism and acts of violence are a start. Staying vigilant will be necessary for 2024 because something as simple as a tweet of mis-information can set off a chain reaction that leads to an election crisis”

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