Matthew Brown for the Deseret News:
Even before COVID-19 complicated voting this year, Richard Hasen worried about the American public losing confidence in the elections. Mostly, he feared a “doomsday” scenario of public protest against a government voters don’t accept.
He and other experts watched with concern as mounting rhetoric about voter fraud, which Hasen says is overblown, and litigation over access to the polls portended the possibility of just that scenario.
“It’s extremely important, although we never think about it because implicit in a democracy is the idea that voters accept the results as legitimate and agree to fight another day,” says Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California Irvine. “If you don’t have that, then you don’t have a democracy.”
To help shore up public confidence and ensure a “free and fair election,” Hasen — the author of “Election Meltdown,” which describes how America’s election system got to this point and what could be done about it — convened leaders in law, politics, media and technology to a conference in February to discuss their concerns. The result was a report recommending 14 steps for state election officials, media and leaders in government, technology and nonprofit sectors to take.
“The reasons for growing voter concern about the fairness and legitimacy of the U.S. election process are multifaceted, raising issues in law, media, politics and norms, and tech,” states the executive summary of the report titled “Free and Fair Elections During a Crisis.” “This means that solutions to bolster American confidence in the fairness and accuracy of the elections must be multifaceted as well.”