Strengthening our Elections and Preventing Election Crises: Lessons and Recommendations from the 2020 General Election

This National Task Force on Election Crises report on strengthening our elections and preventing election crises covers lessons learned from the 2020 General Election, and recommendations for reforms.

The 2020 election was defined by paradox and contradiction.

Thanks to millions of poll workers, election officials, and citizens who stepped up to make our democracy work, the election was secure and free from systemic or significant fraud. A record 160 million Americans voted and had their voices heard. Yet still, voter intimidation and racial disparities in access to the ballot continued, our election system was revealed to be aging and unnecessarily confusing, Americans weathered a wave of disinformation and, of course, there were unprecedented efforts to delegitimize and overturn the election results — ultimately inciting a crisis, the likes of which we’ve not experienced in modern history.

In the end, Congress counted all of the electoral votes, but only after President Trump sought to both coerce federal and state officials to overturn the results and incited a violent insurrection. This attack on our democracy culminated with rioters attacking the Capitol seeking to not only overturn the Constitutional order, but also to take hostages and assassinate members of Congress and the Vice President.

While American democracy has survived this crisis so far, we will only be able to prevent the next one if we both:

1. Ensure accountability for all those who incited, abetted, and participated in the insurrection, and

2. Adopt preventative reforms based on the lessons we learned in this election.

To learn more about the lessons learned and reforms needed, read the report here.

About the Authors

Alexandra Chandler

Head of National Election Advocacy Team & Policy Strategist

Alexandra Chandler leads Protect Democracy’s national-level elections and voting rights advocacy and national security policy work.

Genevieve Nadeau

Counsel & Head of Defending Against Authoritarian Threats Team

Genevieve Nadeau leads our team focused on defending against a range of authoritarian threats at the state and national levels, using a combination of strategic litigation, policy advocacy, and communications to strengthen democratic guardrails and secure accountability for abuses of power.

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