Updated: Nov 22, 2020
What are your questions or concerns about the Presidential election process? Are you concerned about the integrity of the election? Are you unclear about how votes are actually counted?
There are a great deal of public conversations at the moment, and they're not just about who is elected, but about how the election itself works.
Last week I asked my facebook world the following:
Here's a summary of how people responded:
The concern for potential voter fraud in states that automatically mail a ballot to every registered voter.
The concern that there is a higher number of registered voters than there are eligible voters in some counties.
How is security and integrity ensured across the voting process (e.g. cyber-security, preventing voter fraud, etc.)
Why is does it seem that vote counting methods are so different depending on the state?
What is the actual technology used for tabulating, storing, and reporting votes? How does it work?
Why does the electoral college need actual people as electors and why are they technically allowed to change their vote?
Out of all of the themes on this list, almost everyone brought up concerns about states that automatically mail ballots to all registered voters. This was the most-mentioned theme.
As people wondered about the technical side of running the election, some of the specific questions they asked included:
What is the method for tabulation (machine vs. hand-counting)
What kind of machine? How does it work? Is it connected to the internet?
How are ballots input to the machine (scanning, data entry, etc.)
How are the counted votes reported?
Does it only tabulate totals or does it also record the name of the voter?
Who determines what method is used to count the votes? The state legislatures? Is this true in every state?
As people talked about their concern for security and ensuring election integrity, here are some of the points they talked about:
Higher number of registered voters than eligible voters in some counties, paricularly troubling when some counties don't require an ID to vote or mail ballots to every registered voter.
Mail-in ballots - Concern that people stole blank mail-in ballots right out of people's mailboxes and then filled them out and sent them in.
How do election teams assure that a voter who comes on election day hasn't already mailed in a ballot?
What is the hardware and software for voting machines? How do they protect against hacking?
My "poll" was just a guy asking his personal network for their two-cents, but the concerns and questions resonate more broadly. They match questions some people across the country are asking.
Nationwide, people query google nearly 4x more about election fraud in election years. And search trackers show spikes in people asking google "did my vote count?" in the days after an election. Other terms people are searching more in election season include "opinion poll," "fact-check," and "postal voting."
Why am I writing about the election on a blog about higher education?
Well, this blog is about higher education, but more broadly, I want to explore our collective beliefs and practices about knowledge. What is knowledge? What do we count as knowledge? What happens when groups disagree about "the facts?" What makes a person, website, document, or organization a credible source of knowledge?
This year's election is a great case study for asking just these very questions.
Now its your turn to talk:
Given my facebook network's interest in states that automatically send ballots to all registered voters, that's what I'll study next. Watch for my next post--I'll share what I learn.
In the meantime, what do YOU think about states that automatically send ballots to all registered voters? Use the comments section to let us know: