As editors consider how to cover the run-up to the election which is only 93 days away, experts say voters on how the voting systems will work should be a priority.
“The press needs to educate the public both on how to vote… and to overturn these conspiracy theories about voter fraud and the things that will convince people that the election is not going fairly”, Richard Hasen, the Chancellor’s professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
“People in the media should let the public know that a slow count is a fair count, and that trying to rush things will only create neglect. “
Increased stakes for election coverage
This work may be even more important in light of the Recent statements that some fears could undermine Americans’ confidence in the voting process and election results, experts say. Thursday, Trump tweeted, “With universal postal voting (not postal voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE and FRAUDULENT election in history. It will be a great embarrassment for the United States. Delay the election until people can properly, safely vote ??? ”
Delaying an election in the United States would be unprecedented, and it’s a move Trump has no authority to make. His claims that the competition will be flawed are also without evidence. However, there are concerns that his statements may raise fear among Americans about the security of the elections.
“The biggest threat is that we won’t have a fair election or that we won’t have an election that voters, or a good chunk of voters, would accept as legitimate,” said Hasen, who is also the author of “Election Meltdown” said.
Hasen said he was worried about a “nightmare” scenario in which more Trump voters cast their ballots in person, so Trump appears to be leading on election night, but Democratic candidate Joe Biden ends up win the election with more ballots which take longer. to count.
“Is Trump going to say, as he said in 2018, only accept votes that arrive on Election Day?” And try to pretend he’s actually the winner of the election when he’s actually the loser, ”Hasen said. “The kinds of statements he makes really undermine public confidence in the fairness of the vote count for no good reason. “
Cover preparation for elections
Unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud have confused voters, said Erin Geiger Smith, author of “Thank You For Voting: The Infuriating, Illuminating and Inspiring Truth About Voting in America.”
“What is so important to the media as we move forward is not only to resolve these issues and push back against misrepresentation, but we need to do our job and let voters know what part they really can. control, namely voting. Said Geiger Smith, adding that newsrooms should focus on educating Americans on basic information such as how postal voting works and what they can do to make sure their vote counts. .
“I really think any story we write about the issues should also answer the question: am I giving the voter the information they need to make sure their vote counts? Geiger Smith said. “Because voters can’t do much to fund elections or get more money from the USPS – they can push their senators to do it, they can volunteer to be polling officers – but by ultimately, they need to know how to vote by mail in their state and whether voting by mail is the right choice for them. ”
Many such efforts are already underway.
Journalists from The Associated Press studied each state’s voting procedures as they prepare for the election, PA editor-in-chief Sally Buzbee said on Sunday. The Associated Press has a network of journalists and a press organization of 50 states has been recording and publishing election results since 1848.
“The US electoral system is very decentralized,” Buzbee said. “So what we’re doing is doing huge research to make sure we understand how each state is going to handle their elections, what their laws and procedures will be, how they are going to handle mail. vote… so that we can communicate that our clients and the media outlets that depend on us for that vote count on election night. And so that everyone can have as clear, factual and transparent an idea of how this election works as possible. “