Politics New data sheds light on a method to combat...

New data sheds light on a method to combat election fraud


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Miami-Dade County Elections Department staff check tabulations produced by voting equipment used in the upcoming state primary election.

Martha Lavandier/AP

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Martha Lavandier/AP

Miami-Dade County Elections Department staff check tabulations produced by voting equipment used in the upcoming state primary election.

Martha Lavandier/AP

For election officials, lying about America’s voting process can seem like a mole game.

“It’s so wrong that they just keep repeating and repeating and repeating,” said one Colorado polling official. recently told NPR. “And then when I completely block that path with the right information, they just move the goalposts. And they just keep moving the goalposts.”

But it is clear that there is a great deal of stake in this “game”.

A Justice Department official told a Senate hearing this week that federal Law enforcement agencies Over the past year, more than a thousand hostile threats against election workers have been reviewed. And in a separate congressional hearing, MLAs thought How to make the certification process for presidential elections less vulnerable to partisan hijacking.

In what has essentially become an information war for the future of democracy, people motivated by misinformation are acting on it to harass election workers and to disintegrate The will of the voters. And election officials have struggled to find an effective message to fight back.

Republican Stephen Richer, the chief elections officer for Maricopa County, Ariz., a Speaking program Canceled last week due to threats.

“I know if I say so [how to fight misinformation], that would be a lie,” Richer said in a recent interview with NPR. “We have ideas and we’re trying all kinds of tactics. But I don’t think anyone has broken misinformation as a social challenge. “

New data commissioned by the Voting Rights Lab and shared exclusively with NPR, however, suggests a possible way forward.

The expanded voter access advocacy group launched a series of surveys earlier this year with voters in swing states to learn about their feelings about America’s voting system and how different types of messages might affect those feelings.

They found that while more than a third of voters said they did not trust the vote-counting process in the US, that number improved significantly after the popular democratic system persistently conveyed affirmative but non-partisan messages.

“The Big Lie and its supporters have deeply undermined faith in our democracy,” said Megan Lewis, executive director of the Voting Rights Lab. “The good news in our research is that we’ve found that by appealing to the values ​​that American voters hold dear—things like liberty, freedom, the longing for unity—that we can convince voters that the Big Lie is really nothing more than a partisan power grab. “

The institute’s research began with a control group of voters and asked them whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement: “Overall, I trust the vote counting process in our elections.”

Initially, 63% of voters said so.

But “Political candidates can challenge election results. But our system needs to be based on evidence and the law” and “Let’s continue to reform our elections and make them fairer, more equal, and more transparent” went to 72% of voters.

Interestingly, the number of voters identified as already believing election misinformation improved the most After reading the affirmative message.

Tressa Undem, co-founder of the polling firm Voting Rights Lab, said she was surprised to see Republican voters change after reading positive election messages.

“After hearing those positive stories, [Republican voters] The odds of saying they trusted the election vote counting process were in the double digits compared to the control group,” Undem explained.

Those same voters, however, responded poorly to messages that tried to persuade them of impending threats to democracy, such as fact-based reporting on the number of restrictive voting bills enacted in states over the past two years. the country

“People were turned off and they were like, ‘Well those are Democratic talking points’ and it’s so negative and things aren’t that bad,” Undem said. “So what we took away from that is … it’s better to talk about the strength of our election right now.”

When presented to them, Reed College political scientist Paul Groenke, who was not involved in the research, called the results “heartwarming.”

Previously, he said he was concerned that people who believe election misinformation are stuck in their beliefs and are unclear. There are certainly still people like him, he said, but not as large a group as previously thought.

“I wasn’t optimistic, but I read these results and it gave me some optimism,” Groenke said. “The foundation of some of these [false] Beliefs seem quite fragile.”

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