Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

The Conversation on Election Integrity Neither Party Wants You to Hear

Created: 15 January, 2021
Updated: 14 August, 2022
28 min read

Election integrity became a hot button issue during and in the wake of the 2020 presidential election. It is a phrase voters have heard a lot since November 3, as Donald Trump and many of his supporters claim widespread fraud took place that denied him re-election.

Lawmakers and advocates who stood by the president and vowed to challenge the election results said they were doing it for the sake of the integrity of the electoral process.

Challenging the legitimacy of elections is becoming more of a norm than many people might realize. John Pudner, executive director of the nonpartisan reform group Take Back Our Republic, noted in an op-ed in the Western Journal that just as many Trump supporters challenged the results and the Electoral College count in 2020, many Democrats and supporters of Hillary Clinton did the same in 2016.

"The effort concluded with a TV media blitz before the Dec. 19 Electoral College vote and a claim that the Constitution called for the Electoral College to reject a candidate like Trump," wrote Pudner. "Protesters trying to stop electors from casting their votes chanted 'shame' after they did, as shown in this TV report."

Voters heard many of the same arguments: The results were not legitimate and the Electoral College should act to deny the projected winner the presidency. When the Electoral College voted in line with their states, some Democratic lawmakers in 2017, just like some Republican lawmakers in 2021, objected to the results in certain states.

Granted, given the events of Wednesday, January 6, it cannot be said the response in 2016 and the response in 2020 were entirely the same. Pudner, a conservative Republican who voted for Trump, acknowledged this point in an interview with me. The startling reality, he observed, is most of the people who stormed the US Capitol on January 6 truly believed the election was stolen.

He added that if any silver lining could be taken away from these events, it was that more people recognized immediately upon viewing the rioting and violence that "this is something that seriously has to be addressed."

"We cannot continue to have people building up this anger on completely false information that they're believing because it is going to boil over and some are going to act on it," he said.

"If you are going to convince 50 million people that the election was stolen, most of them are not going to do anything, but among those 50 million you are going to find the ones who are crazy enough to take a shot at someone or accost somebody. We're in a scary moment. The only silver lining is I think it woke everyone up."

Check out more from my excellent interview with John Pudner, whose organization is dedicated to building broad coalitions to strengthen the integrity of elections through reform, in the podcast embedded above.

We need to have a discussion on how we got here that goes beyond what Republicans and Democrats are talking about -- or willing to talk about. There are legitimate problems with the US democratic process, but it is important to identify the legitimate source of those problems to know how best to strengthen confidence in our elections.

There are many voters, both in and outside Trump’s sphere of support, who are frustrated and disenchanted with an electoral process that serves those in power, and there are party loyalists and other people who seek to exploit this disenchantment for their own gain. It is important to take a step back and examine this as objective observers, which admittedly, is not easy in the current political environment. People are selective on who they listen to and who they trust. People want to confirm the biases they have because that allows them to remain in their comfort zone and ensures they are always on the side of “right.”

Ignoring these issues, however, and the root cause of them or shrugging them off will likely only lead to further problems down the road.

First, We Need to Define ‘Election Integrity’

When discussing election integrity it is important to understand what that means. Some organizations use it in their name or branding to push an agenda or it is used in a talking point to elicit a response.

The policymakers who objected to the certification of the Electoral College votes on January 6 said they were doing it to preserve election integrity. Many of the arguments we see made on misconduct or fraud in relation to the 2020 election are made on these grouds as well.

But at a fundamental level, what does it (or should it) actually mean?

Integrity is a quality of being honest, fair, consistent, and upholding high ethical standards. So, by its very definition, election integrity means having an electoral process that adheres to these values.

Do we believe elections in the US are fair? Do we believe they are honest? Do we believe they uphold high ethical standards? Judging by the state of the US political environment, many people will on one point or another answer “no.”

Oftentimes the discussion over the integrity of elections focuses on the administration of elections. The most common complaints about the 2020 process were over ballot signature verification and errors in tabulation.

Signature verification was a topic of concern during much of the 2020 election cycle as election officials predicted an unprecedented number of absentee votes would be cast in the general election. They were right. Turnout shattered records at all levels and demographics.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump suggested states like Nevada, wouldn’t verify signatures. “There’s no verification,” he said. “It is a disgrace this could happen.” This claim, however, was disputed by the Nevada secretary of state.

Still, the sheer volume of mail-in ballots is something that raised concerns among members of both parties. If the concern was not over whether or not every voter would have a chance to cast a ballot safely and securely, it was that the process would be abused.

Many Trump supporters argued that the increased use of absentee voting was ripe with misconduct. They argued that the 2020 process was not conducted honestly or fairly for Mr. Trump. Sworn affidavits suggest tampering with ballots, duplicate signatures, over-voting, missing signatures, and those charged with counting and certifying the results allowed widespread fraud to occur.

The counter-argument is that election officials and the courts have upheld the honesty and fairness of the results, and that many of the affidavits that have made it into the court system have been tossed and there is no evidence to support claims of widespread fraud -- thus they defend the integrity of the system.

The truth is, both sides are missing something critical to understanding the real integrity problems that exist within the US electoral process. However,  before I go further into this point, let’s take a deeper dive into some of the arguments challenging the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

Point and Counterpoint to Accusations of a Rigged 2020 Election

In the more widespread arguments against the election results, devoted Trump supporters point to what they believe is incontrovertible evidence that Mr. Trump was cheated, and thus question the legitimacy and integrity of the entire 2020 process.

For example, NTD Cable News, an affiliate of the Epoch Times, posted videos on YouTube that suggest hundreds of thousands of votes were removed from President Trump or switched to Joe Biden in two key battleground states. 

Members of the “Data Integrity Group” testified in a Georgia Senate subcommittee hearing that over 30,000 Trump votes were removed and others were switched to Biden. The same group also made the case that over 423,000 votes were removed for Trump in Pennsylvania.

The core of the arguments made were that individuals with access to election software switched whole batches of votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden at some point in the transit process of moving SD cards with the vote totals and transferring the data over multiple servers. 

Altering the software used, they argue, led to Trump losing votes.

In Pennsylvania, 17 Republican state legislators sponsored and participated in an election analysis that they say shows over 200,000 more votes were counted than actually cast in the state. Thus, these lawmakers say the election results should not have been certified.

“A comparison of official county election results to the total number of voters who voted on November 3, 2020 as recorded by the Department of State shows that 6,962,607 total ballots were reported as being cast, while DoS/SURE system records indicate that only 6,760,230 total voters actually voted. Among the 6,962,607 total ballots cast, 6,931,060 total votes were counted in the presidential race, including all three candidates on the ballot and write-in candidates,” stated State Rep Frank Ryan.

“The difference of 202,377 more votes cast than voters voting, together with the 31,547 over- and under-votes in the presidential race, adds up to an alarming discrepancy of 170,830 votes, which is more than twice the reported statewide difference between the two major candidates for President of the United States”.

The analysis, according to State Rep. Frank Ryan, compared official county election results to the total number of voters who voted on November 3 as recorded by the Department of State.

There are also the hundreds of sworn affidavits that the Trump campaign and Republican Party leaders point to as further evidence of misconduct during the election. As an example of the damning allegations, party chair Ronna McDaniel said in an interview with Fox News that: 

  • A person in Wayne County, Michigan alleged that 60% of a batch of ballots had the same signature on them;
  • Another person said 35 ballots were counted despite not being cast by registered voters; and
  • Another person said 50 ballots were counted multiple times in a tabulation machine elsewhere

And this is barely the tip of the iceberg. One of bigger affidavits, however, filed in court alleged substantial amounts of overvotes in Michigan, up to 350% turnout in some cases. 

The amount of claims and allegations out there is, in truth, quite overwhelming for a single individual to sift through. There is so much information that it is easy for a person to get lost in it all, and all of these claims focus on misconduct in the administration of elections.

For many Trump supporters, there is plenty to call into question the integrity of the 2020 election.

On the other side of this conversation, however, are not only Democrats and opponents to Trump, but chief elections administrators in the spotlighted battleground states, election experts, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who say these claims are largely unfounded and outlandish. 

For instance, not much can be found on the “Data Integrity Group,” which alleged substantial numbers of votes were removed from Trump in Pennsylvania and Georgia. And, some have pointed out that the person who led these efforts in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Lynda McLaughlin, is an executive producer for conservative radio and TV host Sean Hannity

More important to note, though, is that Georgia conducted a statewide audit that revealed no irregularities and a hand recount, meaning the votes were tallied a total of 3 times. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperge has repeatedly said he stands by the results and that they were “counted accurately, fairly, and reliably."

One of the points individuals who presented on behalf of the “Data Integrity Group” based their broader argument on was the overwhelming percentage by which Biden won several precincts in certain counties. They suggested that a candidate receiving 90%+ of the vote in a precinct was abnormal and an indicator of fraud. 

However, it is important to note that in heavily partisan areas, this happens quite often.

Take a look at the 2016 map for a moment. Any county with the deepest shades of red (almost burgundy) and blue (essentially navy blue) have several precincts in which Trump or Clinton won with 90%+ (sometimes nearly 100%) of the vote. It is not as abnormal as one, on the surface, might think or suggest.

In Pennsylvania, the Department of State refuted the claims made by State Rep. Frank Ryan, stating that his press release rehashed, “with the same lack of evidence and the same absence of supporting documentation, repeatedly debunked conspiracy theories regarding the November 3 election.”

Speaking specifically to the discrepancy in total votes cast, the department wrote:

“We are unclear as to what data the legislators used for this most recent 'analysis.' But the only way to determine the number of voters who voted in November from the SURE system is through the vote histories. At this time, there are still a few counties that have not completed uploading their vote histories to the SURE system. These counties, which include Philadelphia, Allegheny, Butler and Cambria, would account for a significant number of voters. The numbers certified by the counties, not the uploading of voter histories into the SURE system, determines the ultimate certification of an election by the secretary.”

Many who rebuff the election results turn to the sheer number of sworn affidavits that have been submitted alleging misconduct, ballot tampering, and/or fraud. The quantity has been more of a focus than the substance of those affidavits.

Though there are hundreds of affidavits, many of them are unavailable because they have not been filed in actual lawsuits. However, many of the ones that have been used in lawsuits have been tossed by judges as inadmissible or not credible.

One report examined the affidavit about Michigan’s vote count, finding that the data used was actually from Minnesota, and the Minnesota locations used are not backed up by data from the Minnesota Secretary of State.

There have reportedly been 60+ lawsuits pertaining to the outcome of the 2020 election, and thus far the courts -- from the state level to the US Supreme Court -- have yet to determine that there is a legitimate legal argument that the outcome was fraudulent.

This is why it is important to take a step back and look at this as an objective observer. It is possible to consider and look into claims of election misconduct with an open mind without simply casting them aside as conspiracy theories.

However, when evidence is presented that refutes claims of misconduct, it is important to consider the counter-argument and points with an equally open mind.  

It is important to note that an outright refusal to acknowledge and thoroughly consider potential threats to the integrity of US elections can do just as much damage to the electoral process as entertaining falsehoods about the administration of elections, because it would allow genuine threats to public confidence in the process to continue and get worse.

To clarify, though, both pose a risk to the integrity of the elections. This is why the conversation cannot be treated in absolute terms -- i.e. a person is either all-in on one side of the argument or they are all-in on the other. This us-vs-them mindset is a major problem with the mainstream partisan narrative. 

We need to be willing to examine legitimate threats to public confidence and the integrity of elections while at the same time call out efforts to disrupt or overturn a legitimate election outcome to serve the private interests of a single party -- or a single person.

Donald Trump repeatedly made false and unfounded claims about the administration of elections during the 2020 campaign, particularly on the subject of mail-in voting and signature verification. 

However, that does not mean every point he made was without merit or worth deeper consideration because one thing he did well in 2016 was bring in support from voters, both in and outside the party apparatus, who have lost confidence in the electoral process.

Ballot Harvesting: A Threat to the Legitimacy of Elections?

Donald Trump repeatedly contended in rallies and on Twitter that ‘ballot harvesting’ would open the floodgates to fraud and election misconduct in the 2020 process with the expansion of vote-by-mail access in nearly every state. Ballot harvesting is now a popular colloquialism for ballot collection, in which individuals or organizations collect and return ballots from voters who can’t return their ballot themselves or otherwise prefer to let someone else take care of it.

There are several states that restrict the persons allowed to return a ballot on behalf of a voter -- typically limited to family members or members of a voter’s household. However, according to Ballotpedia, as of August 2020, “24 states and D.C. permitted someone chosen by the voter to return mail ballots on their behalf in most cases.”

There are some important asterisks that could be placed next to Ballotpedia’s number. Each state has their own unique laws and some states, such as Alaska, send specific ballots to individuals who have qualified special needs, and these voters can designate an individual to return their ballot for them.

The type of ballot harvesting Mr. Trump railed against, however, is the collection practice in which any individual or group can collect as many ballots from as many voters as they want without restriction. This type of ballot collection is illegal in several states. However, it is by law legal in a state like California.

The use of ballot harvesting in California drew national attention for its election practices. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that would require all registered voters in the state to receive a ballot, which was contested in lawsuits filed by Republicans. California also extended the window by which ballots postmarked by election day could be delivered to county registrars to 17 days.

However, a state law that essentially allows unmitigated ballot harvesting drew scrutiny both in and outside the state. Under California law, anyone can return a ballot on behalf of any voter for any reason as long as:

  • They do not receive compensation for the amount of ballots collected;
  • Sign the ballot envelope and state their relationship to the voter; and
  • Return ballots collected in-person or put them in the mail no later than 3 days from the date the ballots were received.

However, it is worth noting that a ballot won’t be disqualified if it is returned after the 3 day deadline or if the collector doesn’t sign it as long as it is returned by election day -- making the requirements basically pointless.

California law didn’t always allow this. Prior to 2016, if a voter was unable to return a ballot themselves, only a designated family member or person living in the same household could return the ballot. The law was expanded in 2016 under Assembly Bill 1921.

Political Data Inc. Vice President Paul Mitchell commented to the Sacramento Bee that the law is most commonly used for individuals to help other individuals deliver their ballot, and is not as often used by organizations. However, critics have raised concerns over the last couple of years over the potential for partisan machinations. 

Republican leaders specifically linked ballot harvesting to the strong blue wave that swept over the state in 2018. The argument focused specifically on competitive districts where Republicans looked to have an advantage in the early count but later counted ballots shifted the advantage to Democrats and led to Democratic victories. 

In Orange County, which was previously considered a GOP stronghold, former GOP US Rep. Mimi Walters ended election night with a 6,200 lead, but as votes continued to be tallied after election night her opponent, Katie Porter, took 58% of the remaining votes, which propelled her to victory.

The story sounds familiar, right? The votes tallied on election night showed one result but as the votes continued to be tallied after election night, the outcome ended up being a different story. That is not, by itself, an indicator of fraud. The ballots were always there; it just took time to count them.

California has for many elections taken a long time to count millions of ballots after Election Day, something Republican leaders across California and critics of ballot harvesting have pounced on, claiming the extended time to count ballots opens the door for election misconduct. California election officials dispute these claims,

Yet, when it comes to ballot harvesting, those who oppose its use are not wrong. The potential does indeed exist for party shenanigans and misconduct.

Something else California made national headlines in 2020 for was the emergence of ballot drop boxes that were put in place by the Republican Party, and were not officially sanctioned by a county registrar’s office. Party leaders argued that drop boxes put up by volunteers or parties were a legal form of ballot collection and they were merely playing by the rules that the Democrats wrote.

“This is just another form of me going door to door,” he said. “When I go door to door, I can get those ballots and put it in a bag, whether it’s a trash bag or a box that I get from Ikea,” said GOP spokesperson Hector Barajas.

California officials, including Secretary of State Alex Padilla, contested the notion that what the Republican Party was doing was ‘legal.’ He and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra asserted that California law requires anyone returning a ballot, whether it is the voter or a person on their behalf, to use means sanctioned by county officials to do so.

Interesting to note, Paul Mitchell (mentioned above) commented that there would have been no legal dispute if there was a person standing in place of the drop boxes. Meaning, under state law, a person could just stand on the street corner and collect ballots as long as voters are willing to give them their ballots.

And, there is nothing in state law that suggests otherwise, as long as those ballots are returned to county voting centers, polling locations, or placed in officially sanctioned drop boxes by election day. If this sounds like a system that opens itself up for abuse, that’s because it easily is.

In the end, the California GOP agreed to remove the drop boxes, though some GOP lawmakers suggested they would continue to be deployed and President Donald Trump openly encouraged their use. It is clear how in an electoral environment that is focused on who wins and who loses between two sides, the ballot harvesting law was used to play partisan games.

Looking outside California, the most egregious machination in recent history was in North Carolina, where a political operative was charged with multiple felonies for illegally possessing and tampering with ballots during the 2018 general election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

Ballot harvesting, as it is in California, is illegal in North Carolina. It is a Class I felony for anyone other than a near relative or legal guardian to return a voter’s ballot when that person is unable to return it themselves. 

In this case, Leslie McCrae Dowless -- along with others working for him -- illegally collected (and potentially filled out) people’s ballots and then had his co-conspirators state they saw the voter vote absentee. The North Carolina elections board refused to certify the results of the election and a new election was scheduled.

It is case-in-point, however, for the potential for mischief and misconduct through the practice of ballot collection. There is certainly a difference between the law in California and the law in North Carolina, but it is easy to see how the threat of tit-for-tat partisan schemes is easier when ballot harvesting is legal. 

One side will claim it is merely playing the game the other side started or escalated with little to no consequences.

It is important to note that there is no evidence of a widespread problem with ballot harvesting in the US, and claims of ballot harvesting affecting the outcome of previous elections in California in any type of fraudulent manner are broadly disputed. The process is illegal in several states, and incidents like what happened in North Carolina are a rare exception to the rule. 

Still, the idea of ballot harvesting shakes public confidence in the process. People see the potential for fraud and the damaging impact nefarious schemes, either by an individual or party, can have on the fairness and integrity of the democratic process, and there is merit to this perception.

Thus, a system that allows an unmitigated practice of ballot harvesting should be discouraged. 

The Real Threat to Election Integrity Comes from a Duopoly-Controlled Process

As mentioned before, when it comes to the topic of integrity in the election process,  much of the focus is on the administration of elections -- mail-in voting, signature verification, vote tabulation, the transfer of votes from the county level to the state level. 

One side says there was misconduct after the 2020 presidential election in how ballots were handled and tallied. The other side says the facts suggest otherwise, thus there is not a problem.

In the eyes of the courts, there wasn’t a legitimate legal argument made that fraud took place. Election officials on both sides of the aisle defend how the ballot counting was administered and the results, and say the process was fair and transparent.

There is no reason to rationally think the results were not legitimate.

There is an inherent and critical danger, however, to the integrity of the US political process. But, it is a danger that runs deeper and is more systematic than both sides acknowledge or are willing to admit to and has existed and festered over many years.

Remember the definition of election integrity. It means having an electoral process that is  honest, fair, consistent, and upholds high ethical standards. Now consider the electoral system we have and who it is designed to serve.

Elections in a democratic form of government should represent the interests of the public. Citizens elect public officials and representatives to make policy and govern on their behalf. 

However, the US electoral process doesn’t serve the public interest of ensuring the needs of voters and the public at-large are represented in the halls of government. US elections are designed to serve the private interests of the Republican and Democratic Parties. 

The primaries, for example, give the parties and their members an advantage in the process by being able to pick for everyone else who they get to vote for, while at the same time dividing the electorate between “Team Red” and “Team Blue” from the onset of the electoral season.

The nation’s electoral maps are drawn by legislators to preserve and grow the power of the partisan majority, creating safe seats where incumbents only have to worry about a primary challenge to win, and eliminating the need to actually compete for voters.

As a result of the critical role primaries play in the electoral process, the incentive public officials have is to appease the most staunch ideologues of their party’s base that vote in these low turnout elections that though administered with public funds and by state and local governments, serve a private purpose.

This also enhances the power party leaders have over deciding who ultimately gets elected. After all, getting the party’s nod is the best way for a candidate to ensure they get access to the tremendous resources of their party. 

But wait, there’s more.

Ballot access laws are written to better protect the two parties from outside competition. Campaign finance laws heavily favor the two major parties and their allies. Debate rules block anyone but Republicans and Democrats from appearing before the public.

Campaign finance, in particular, is a major area of concern among voters. In a 2018 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll 77% of respondents said “reducing the influence of special interests and corruption in Washington” was at least somewhat important in deciding who to vote for in congressional elections.

However, many voters may not know that the parties control the largest flow of money in US elections -- a flow that is unlimited between party committees and campaigns. Many voters may also not be aware that the agencies designed to enforce campaign finance and federal election laws, like the Federal Election Commission, have been designed in such a way that it is now impossible for them to move on anything in a hyper-polarized political environment.

"For those who don't know, the FEC board is comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats, so generally they cancel each other out and won't rule on violations," said John Pudner, whose organization (Take Back Our Republic) focuses on several reform issues, but their biggest focus is on the rules that allow so much money toflow into the nation's politics.

How can we enforce the integrity of or elections when the very agency tasked with ruling on alleged violations has been set up to fail because of the deep divide that has grown between the two major parties?

And, it isn’t just money the parties hang over campaigns. They also control the biggest transfer of voter data -- data on all US voters. They decide which candidates get access to this data and to what extent they get access.

To reiterate, the system was designed at every level to serve the private interests of the Republican and Democratic Parties, and the people who create and enforce these rules are loyal members of the parties themselves. The parties are the gatekeepers of our elections and they intend to keep it that way.

A system that serves a two-party duopoly guarantees elections are a zero-sum contest between two -- and only two -- sides. What matters most in elections is not policy, or issues, or even voters. It is who wins and who loses between “Team Red” and “Team Blue.”

Everyone else involved in the US political industry, as one should think of it, falls in line with this model in order to survive in it. The media treats politics as a spectator sport, pollsters give US citizens two options from which to choose, and even academics reinforce the status quo.

The parties, thus the media and the national narrative, put elections in terms of consequences, but not the consequences of what the rhetoric on the campaign trail or proposed policies might have on the country, but the consequence of winners and losers.

This type of consequentialist ethics perpetually raises the stakes in each election cycle. For my side to win, how can I ensure the other side loses? And, when the other side raises the stakes against my side, how can I raise them even further?

Think about any policy conflict, for a moment. When nothing changes, it is always the other side’s fault. It is the other side that refuses to bend or compromise. It is the other side that is blocking legislation or is attempting to derail progress. The other side started this conflict, so they are to blame for any action taken by either side.

Anything wrong with the nation is always the other side’s fault and voters need to see it that way. 

The stakes have risen to such extremes that both sides claim the other is an existential threat to the country. The “other side,” in one way or another, is presented as a threat to your safety and/or your rights and will usher in the destruction of the republic. “They” will lie, cheat, and steal their way to victory, thus defeating “them” at any cost is for the good of the nation.

The inflated ego of leaders of both major parties is they have to win, at any cost, and it has expanded their sense of entitlement from not only control over the process itself, which has resulted in tens of millions of voters either disenchanted or disenfranchised completely, but over winning itself. And, if they don't win, that must mean the other side cheated or engaged in nefarious misconduct of some kind to rob them of that victory.

Case-in-point, we've had two consecutive presidential election cycles that have been challenged by members of both parties. Instead of respecting the will of voters, the parties insert their own sense of entitlement to power.

And, we’re not just talking about the extremely polarized rhetoric on the campaign trail, but also how members of both parties approach policy and reform to the process. Everything has to be put in terms of which side benefits. Support or opposition to reforms to how elections are conducted, like elections, comes down to who wins, thus the two parties scheme on ways that give them a leg up on the “other side.”

Ballot harvesting in California, for instance, was put in terms of which side gains rather than a big picture look at how such practices affect public confidence in the process and what partisan schemes can emerge as a result.

Members of the Democratic establishment in New York City use the same arguments against an alternative voting method like ranked choice voting approved by a majority -- in this case an overwhelming majority -- of voters as Republicans will use in Maine if it is perceived as a threat to the power to which they think they are entitled.

Republicans may fight just as hard to close primaries in states where they have the most political power as Democrats might in states where they control the branches of government. Both argue that the other side will scheme to weaken the opposing party, while no attention is given to how elections empower voters and given them a level playing field to decide who represents them.

There is perhaps no better featured example of this, though, than how both parties use gerrymandering to their favor when they have the political majority. Republicans scheme to draw maps that benefit them in states like Texas just as hard as Democrats scheme to draw maps that benefit them in states like Maryland.

Both sides claim to be the true champions of integrity, but does the electoral system they have fostered truly sound like it prioritizes integrity? Substance is lost. Solutions aren’t important. Voters don’t matter. The only thing that matters is “Team Red” and “Team Blue,” and who comes out the winner.

An electoral process that promises to be “of, by, and for the people,” but fails to deliver on that promise is not honest, it is not fair, it is not consistent, and it does not uphold high ethical standards, because US public officials are accountable to private, gain-seeking interests above all else. We do not have a system that truly encourages integrity.

If we want to ensure and strengthen public confidence and trust in the electoral process then we need broad systemic reforms that ensure accountability to the public. A fair, competitive process that shifts the incentive for public officials to put the interests of voters above the interests of their parties or other special interests is the only way to ensure honest elections.