Washington, D.C. – At the recent National Association of Secretaries of State’s (NASS) conference Democracy Fund facilitated a panel discussion on the pressing need to bolster voter confidence in light of the intense scrutiny during 2016.
Panelist David Becker, Executive Director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, stated that this was one of the best run elections in American history. Nevertheless, a Democracy Fund survey fielded days after the election revealed troubling voter perceptions. Democrats and Republicans alike question the process, believing that candidates or political parties can change the results at the ballot box, or that machine malfunctions can impact results.
“There is a need for voter education about why voters should trust the process and the results, even when their candidate loses,” said Rebecca Mark, Vice President at Porter Novelli, who assisted with the survey. “This mistrust ladders back to an intense feeling of frustration that voters have towards their government.”
Eighty-five percent of voters characterized their experience voting in November as pleasant, a testament to the hard work of officials like Secretaries of State, yet the undercurrent of concern could persist into future elections.
“That solid majority of positive voting experiences will be essential for building additional trust in both the outcome and in the process,” said Stacey Scholl, Senior Program Associate of Elections at Democracy Fund.
Showcasing transparency is critical to strengthening confidence among voters, such as efforts by Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. The Secretary shared his election cycle experience, including the installation of recount room viewing windows so anyone – regardless of credentials – could watch a recount. He explained, “people need to have confidence their election officials are doing everything they can to maintain the integrity of the election, because if they have that confidence they will vote.”
To view full panel, covered by C-SPAN, click here.
Panelists included Hon. Wayne Williams, Colorado Secretary of State, Hon. Miles Rapoport, Senior Practice Fellow, Ash Center, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, David Becker, Executive Director, Center for Election Innovation and Research, Rosalind Gold, Senior Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy, NALEO Educational Fund, Samidh Chakrabarti, Product Manager for Civic Engagement, Facebook, and Rebecca Mark, Vice President, Porter Novelli.
The Democracy Fund is a bipartisan foundation that invests in organizations working to ensure our political system can withstand new challenges and deliver on its promise to the American people. For more information, please visit www.democracyfund.org.