Five Things We Know About Tomorrow’s Election

November 2016 2 min read by David Becker

1. It’s exceedingly difficult to hack or rig an election.

Despite hysteria to the contrary, it is nearly impossible to hack or rig the outcome of a national election in the U.S., for several reasons.

  • Election administration in the U.S. is decentralized. There are nearly 10,000 separate election jurisdictions in the U.S., using dozens of different systems and procedures, which means there’s no single point of attack.
  • Voting machines are never connected to the internet. To rig an individual machine, a hacker must have physical access to each machine for a significant period of time, which is all the more difficult since all machines are kept secure and tested repeatedly, in public and open to the political parties, before each election.
  • Most people vote on paper. Around 80% of voters will have a paper record of their ballot, and in most states, those paper ballots are compared to the machine counts to confirm the vote totals. If any error is found, the paper ballot is the official ballot. States where nearly every voter creates a paper record of their ballot include Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, among many others.

2. Voter fraud is extremely rare.

Study after study has found that voter fraud represents only a tiny handful of votes – just a few out of 1 billion ballots cast. Secretaries of States from both parties have conducted investigations into voter fraud, and at most, have found only a handful of cases. Voters can be assured tomorrow’s election won’t be affected by fraud.

3. Your vote counts, and it matters.

There is agreement from both Republican Secretaries of State, like Jon Husted in Ohio, and Democratic Secretaries of State, like Denise Merrill in Connecticut, that the election will be fair, secure, and voters can be confident in the results.

4. Down ballot races are important, but millions will not vote in them.

In this election, as in every presidential election, there are hundreds of other important races on the ballot. Not just for U.S. Senate and Congress, but also for state legislative, county, and other local offices. Nevertheless, we can expect many millions of the 140 million citizens who vote for president to skip these down-ballot races. In many cases, these races are just as crucial as the presidential race, determining state budgets and priorities, as well as setting the stage for redrawing Congressional and legislative districts after 2020.

5. 4 out of 10 eligible Americans will sit out this election, as they do every election.

If voter turnout is high on Tuesday, we can expect around 60% of eligible citizens to vote, which means that 40% of eligible citizens, many of whom are registered to vote, will not participate. And 60% is the high-water mark for turnout in the U.S., which has seen voter participation in non-presidential elections decline to historical lows: only 36% of eligible voters turned out in November 2014, the lowest turnout in a federal general election since 1942, when Hitler controlled most of Europe and many young American men were serving in the military.

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