Q: What Is Needed to Have a Free and Fair Election This November?

PositionONE QUESTION

ROBIN E. BEST

Associate professor of political science at Binghamton University

There are certain basic factors necessary for all free and fair democratic elections. For instance, each ballot cast must be counted according to established rules and procedures, and each citizen deemed eligible to vote should be able to do so without intimidation or undue hardship.

But it is equally important that the election be perceived as free and fair. Democracy is a form of government that ultimately rests on the consent of the governed and on perceptions of legitimacy.

Officials at the federal, state, and local levels must provide the information and transparency necessary so that voters are convinced their ballots are treated fairly. Claims about the potential or actual levels of voter fraud will only work to undermine the legitimacy of the election--and therefore its perceived freeness and fairness--even if those claims are false.

MYRNA PEREZ

Director of the Voting Rights and Elections program at the Brennan Center for Justice

Every eligible voter should be able to cast a ballot and have it counted. This has been complicated by COVID-19 and persistent efforts to make it harder for people to vote. These challenges are real, but not insurmountable.

We all have our part to play. Voters, whether they're casting their ballots in-person or by mail, should do so as early as possible, so problems have a greater chance of being addressed.

Voting systems must be COVID-19-safe and sufficiently robust to handle the expected surge in voting by mail. The federal government needs to provide resources quickly, because the capacity for deploying those resources effectively is diminishing as Election Day...

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