A New Election Science Task Force Aims to Strengthen Our Elections—and Our Democracy 

February 15, 2024 | 9:00 am
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Jennifer Jones
Program Director, Center for Science & Democracy

A strong and healthy democracy reflects the will of the people. It gives everyone an equal opportunity to participate and have their vote counted, regardless of race, gender, wealth, or social status. It ensures that all voters have the ability to advocate for themselves and their communities.  

It depends on all of us to take part and strengthen our democracy together, and science has a crucial role to play. The science of elections can help us identify evidence-based best practices to improve voter access, increase public trust in the election process, and ensure fair representation so that elected officials can be held accountable to the interests of their voters.  Past UCS work has called out the role of disinformation in weakening our democracy, the dangers of artificial intelligence in elections, and how voting restrictions harm public health. The 2024 election will have consequential outcomes and we want to ensure that everyone eligible can vote and that their votes are counted fairly.  

A task force of election experts

The Center for Science and Democracy at UCS is convening an Election Science Task Force of more than 20 leading experts, including election scientists, democracy researchers, community organizers, voting rights attorneys, and elected officials. The goal of the task force is to strengthen the role of science in evaluating how elections are conducted, and to use election science to identify best practices and make recommendations for relevant policy changes to improve how our elections are administered.

The task force will seek to: 

Ensure fair representation. Too often, election maps are drawn by partisan politicians to secure their own power rather than to accurately represent the interests of their voters. The science of elections allows us to establish clear standards to make sure district maps are drawn fairly and that redistricting processes are transparent and encourage public participation.   

Increase election data transparency. Transparent and consistent handling and communication of election data—such as voter registration numbers, the number of mail ballots sent and returned, and results—helps increase trust in elections, reduces the potential for false claims of fraud to gain traction, and enables states to better assess their own election administration.   

Improve ballot design. Today, ballot designs vary widely across states, but all states can adopt scientifically-tested best practices to make ballots more equitable and improve voter education materials for everyone. We’re working for equitable ballot design and improved voter education materials to more accurately reflect the preferences of the governed.    

Leading up to the 2024 election, the task force will analyze election data preparedness and integrity in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. We will analyze voter files and participation rates at the precinct level, track ballot rejection rates due to errors, and determine whether election administrators contacted voters to fix errors—a process known as ballot curing. In this way, the task force can identify processes that can unfairly marginalize voters. 

We need structural advances to increase equity 

The task force’s work is also focused on increasing equity and justice in electoral systems. Previous UCS research has found higher ballot rejection rates in counties with a higher percentage of black voters. The task force will seek to address questions, such as: How can states reliably update voter files that track voter participation while elections results come in? How can problems such as ballot rejections and administrative errors be quickly and accurately identified and corrected so that all votes matter? What are the best practices to audit elections and publicly release election data? Following the November election, we will publish and share voter turnout and other key data to counter the expected wave of mis- and disinformation that often comes in the days and weeks after election day leading up to certification. Election disinformation often targets or scapegoats BIPOC voters, with this disinformation often cited to further restrict access to elections. Our analyses on election data transparency will address the number of voters who are being left behind, inequalities in voter turnout in underrepresented communities, and the consequences of bias in and after voter participation, including the consequences of racial and partisan gerrymandering and electoral system bias.  

A healthy democracy means a healthier, more just world  

Free and fair elections are vital for allowing voters to advocate for themselves and their communities.  UCS research has shown that people living in states with more open, less discriminatory election systems have better health outcomes. A healthy democracy matters for science because a government that’s not accountable to the people it serves will listen to the most powerful interests rather than creating evidence-based policies that can serve us all. That’s why we all benefit from government based on the preferences of an informed and active voter base. You can help advance this crucial work to create a strong and transparent democracy.  

The need to protect our democracy is more urgent than ever. Stay tuned as we work for science-based electoral reforms that will make our democracy more free and fair for all voters.