The following commentary is published on Thursdays as part of TPPF’s subscriber-only newsletter The Post. If you would like to subscribe to The Post, click here.
With less than two weeks until the Iowa Caucus and exactly two months (tomorrow) until the Texas primaries, election season is in full swing. America’s election system should be the envy of the world. Yet, election integrity continues to grow as a concern for Americans. According to Gallup, confidence in our elections matched its lowest levels in 20 years in 2020 and only slightly increased heading into the 2022 midterms.
Ensuring that our election system protects the most basic right of citizens in a democracy should not be a partisan exercise. It might help to get on the same page and define what we mean by election integrity. The election system should:
- Accurately determine the identity and eligibility of every voter;
- Securely collect the votes; and,
- Efficiently count and reliably report the results.
We see confidence in our system erode when any of these goals come up short. When officials do execute audits, they always find problems. Dead people vote. Some people vote more than once or in the wrong district. There is administrative chaos at polling places that delay collection and counting.
Policymakers should be vigilant and aggressive at fixing the system for the sake of defending democracy. The truth is most problems with the system may not be – and likely aren’t – a result of an intentional campaign to steal elections. But illegitimate votes do get counted and legitimate votes do get eliminated which denies voters one of the most basic rights as citizens.
The key is getting ahead of it. Because we vote anonymously, once the bad votes are in the system, there’s no way to get them out without a new election. Good policy, like strong voter ID requirements for both in-person and mail-in ballots, can build a strong foundation for secure elections.
But states should also implement best practices all the way up until Election Day. Practicing stress tests on infrastructure and ensuring workers are properly trained on what to do when problem arise are just a couple ways to prevent issue before they become a crisis and erode confidence in the results.
No system is perfect. Striving toward perfection should be our goal and demonstrate to the world the true value of democracy.