“Combating Misinformation Through Electoral Reform”

New from R Street:

In the past several years, various states across the country have experienced delays in reporting their election results. These delays have been especially scrutinized in slow-counting jurisdictions when the window of time between the polls closing and the release of sufficient ballot totals that would enable the media to call the race lags beyond what feels reasonable. As voters eagerly await results, this lag time also provides fertile ground for misinformation to proliferate.

Misinformation and conspiracy theories can be extremely damaging to democratic institutions, weakening the public’s confidence in and attitudes toward political systems. Unfortunately, correcting misinformation as it arises is often insufficient to stop its spread, as research has shown that corrections do not spread as fast or as far as original information does—even when released by the same source.

This paper recommends changes to election practices that could help expedite vote tabulation to minimize the window of time in which misinformation is likely to spread. It also suggests ways that citizens and the media could interact differently with elections to further combat misinformation and improve the legitimacy of American elections….

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