Annabel Adams, UCLA
Two dozen of the nation’s leading experts on law, elections and information security — representing universities, nonprofits and the private sector — have issued 24 recommendations for safeguarding the integrity of the 2024 U.S. elections.
The report, titled “24 for ’24,” was published today under the auspices of UCLA School of Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project. It is aimed at ensuring access to the ballot for all eligible voters, protecting election integrity and enhancing the public’s confidence in the fairness of the election and the accuracy of the results. In it, the authors call for specific action from journalists, social media companies, government bodies, election officials, congressional and state leaders, and the general public.
The authors’ guidance is divided into four broad categories: legal, media and social media, politics and norms, and technology. Chief among the recommendations is that states strengthen laws to protect election officials from violence, threats of violence and intimidation.
“Since the 2020 election, election officials throughout the nation have faced increasingly more frequent threats of physical violence,” the authors write. “According to one recent poll, nearly one third of election officials have been ‘harassed, abused or threatened.’ … Nationwide, approximately 20 percent of local election officials have stated they may quit before the 2024 election in response to such threats, which would lead to substantial losses of institutional knowledge.”
Richard L. Hasen, founder and director of the Safeguarding Democracy Project, served as chair of the committee that produced the report.
“The United States’ election system continues to be under great stress, especially after the last election was conducted during a pandemic and with unprecedented attacks on the integrity of the election system,” Hasen said. “I am hopeful that we have provided a road map for actionable steps that can and should be taken for a fair and legitimate 2024 election season.”
Hasen, a UCLA professor of law and political science, is an internationally recognized election law expert and frequent commentator on American democracy and the courts. The Safeguarding Democracy Project promotes research, events and advocacy aimed at ensuring election integrity.
“Under the auspices of UCLA Law’s Safeguarding Democracy Project, Rick Hasen has led a stellar and diverse group with concrete suggestions that everyone committed to American democracy and fair elections should closely consider,” said Michael Waterstone, dean of UCLA School of Law.
The authors also advise that:
News organizations and nonprofits should fund, develop and implement training workshops to improve reporters’ understanding of election processes and relevant election law, and to help develop relationships between election professionals and journalists. Special attention should be paid to helping local and non-English-language news outlets.
Nonprofit organizations and foundations should establish an independent, bipartisan commission well before the election to gather and amplify prominent pro-democracy voices warning against the erosion of core democratic norms. The commission should alert the public to instances of democratic erosion, encourage candidates and other political actors to embrace pro-democracy norms and weigh in after the election, if necessary, to promote the resolution of election disputes in a manner consistent with democratic principles.
Election administrators should review and strengthen measures to secure election systems against insider threats, such as mandatory background checks for vendors and staff with access to critical systems, access controls, and robust chain-of-custody procedures.