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Index 08

Independent Election Administration and Certification

Storming State Capitols
March 2022

Overview:

Independent administration and nonpartisan certifications of elections are a hallmark of a fair and inclusive democracy. In the aftermath of the 2020 general election, we have witnessed a sharp departure from this custom. The result is an erosion of confidence in the outcomes of elections in states where legislatures have given themselves the power to override the will of the voters or have replaced nonpartisan election administrators with partisan appointees.

Components of this index include whether states have passed legislation to shift election authority away from the chief election officer or created partisan committees to review election results.

Observations:

Influenced and emboldened by supporters of the Trump/Pence administration, state legislators have been seeking ways to either overturn the 2020 presidential election results or create state mechanisms to overturn future election results. As such, thirteen state legislatures passed laws in 2021 to shift election authority to more partisan actors, criminalize local election officials for doing their job, interfere with local election boards of their choosing, or shift emergency powers from the governor to themselves if the results are not to their liking.

For example, Florida and Arizona passed legislation that transfers certification duties from the secretary of state to the attorney general if there are legal challenges to the election results. Kansas and Texas passed legislation rescinding the authority of the secretary of state and local authorities to adjust the mail-in ballot dates or drop-off locations to make voting easier. Legislators in Georgia, New Hampshire, and South Carolina have filed legislation to audit the 2020 elections. In Wisconsin, Republican members of the State Assembly are using public funds to force public officials to sit for closed door meetings or face criminal penalties, all in the effort to negate the 2020 election.

Overall findings:

The results of this index indicated that although 14 states received ratings of low confidence and 14 states received ratings of medium confidence, 22 states and the District of Columbia received high confidence ratings in certifying elections going into 2022. These findings suggest that even with the passage of anti-democratic policies in many states, most voters will continue to enjoy medium to high confidence in the integrity and security of their ballots.

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