My New Piece in Politico: “Opinion: The 2024 Election Will Be Fair. People Still Won’t Believe It.”

I have written this piece for Politico. A snippet:

The current backdrop for the 2024 election may seem bleak: Many of those who helped to ensure a fair election and a peaceful transition of power in 2020 have been silenced, replaced or intimidated. Researchers who studied and reported on disinformation have been unfairly attacked as engaging in election interference in collusion with the government. Conservative states have passed new laws barring the use of private funds to help support election administration, derisively calling such money “Zuckerbucks” after Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s foundation provided hundreds of millions in crucial 2020 funding. Lawsuits and congressional hearings by the Orwellian-named House committee on the “weaponization of government” may be deterring some government agencies from reporting election disinformation and foreign interference to social media companies and others. The social media platforms that had deplatformed Trump after he encouraged the violence at the Capitol have restored his accounts.

Some Republican officials have been booted out of the party or out of power, including Aaron Van Langevelde, the Michigan state member of the board of canvassers who confirmed Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, and Republican members of the U.S. House, including Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, who lost primaries or chose not to run for reelection. Attrition rates among election officials, who have faced relentless threats and intimidation while earning relatively low pay, are substantial.

And yet there is reason for hope.

Efforts have been made to ensure the 2024 election will be mostly fair. Congress amended the set of rules used for its counting of Electoral College votes to close off some of the shenanigans with alternative slates of electors that Trump and his allies tried in 2020. The Supreme Court last year in Moore v. Harper rejected an extreme theory that would have empowered legislatures to overcome even their own state constitutions and state courts in constricting voting rights. Election deniers who ran for chief election officer in swing states lost in 2022. People are now hypervigilant about attempts to subvert election results and are on guard against new forms of manipulation. Trump, no longer in government, has fewer tools to try to manipulate results. The 2022 elections, without Trump on the ballot, went off smoothly. (Of course, there is much more that can and should be done in law, politics, media and tech to assure a fair and safe election, as a group of us explained in a recently issued report, “24 for ’24.”)

But things look less promising when it comes to voter confidence in the fairness of election results — on both sides of the aisle.

Trump is already laying the seeds for claiming voter fraud in the 2024 elections should he lose, positing without evidence that Democrats are allowing illegal immigration into the United States so that these new arrivals can vote for Biden in the 2024 elections. (Noncitizens are ineligible to vote in U.S. presidential elections.) One of the mistakes I made in the run-up to the 2020 elections was believing that if the U.S. could pull off a free and fair election, it would take the oxygen out of false and outlandish claims of voter fraud. In fact, Trump has been able to manufacture doubt out of absolutely nothing; fraud claims untethered to reality still captivate millions of people looking for an excuse as to why their adored candidate may have lost. The upshot, of course, was an insurrection on Jan. 6. We should be deeply concerned about a sequel, even if Trump is not in the Oval Office this time…..

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