Since 2008, partisan distrust of presidential election results has been substantial. In 2016, only 43 percent of Democrats believed that the election was free and fair; now, only 30 percent of Republicans do. Each party’s supporters are more likely to believe that the vote was free and fair if they won, and those on the losing side are becoming more suspicious of the results. With a defeated president trying for weeks to overturn an election he has falsely called fraudulent, our partisan breach will be hard to repair.
But electoral reform can still provide a better foundation of trust. Two decades since the 2000 Florida recount debacle revealed the shoddiness of how America votes, we should be able to provide a straightforward, sensible answer to anyone who asks, “How do you know the results are correct?”
Yet, we still do not have nationwide standards and procedures to assure Americans that results are reliable. Claims of widespread fraud are false, but we can do much more to provide stronger answers to those who might want to question the process or the results.
The true scandal is that we know what we need to do and have even begun to implement reforms in many states, but we have not instituted the changes nationwide.
The basics come down to this: