Helen Butler carefully avoids mentioning Russian hacking or other threats to election systems when she tries to register voters in Georgia. She doesn’t want to scare off people already doubting their vote will count. “I’m concerned about anything that would dissuade voters from participating,” said Butler, executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples Agenda. As midterms approach, Butler, election officials and others face the challenge of persuading wary voters to go to the polls. They’re right to be concerned. Only about half of American voters believe the nation’s elections are “fair and open,” according to a recent University of Virginia Center for Politics/Ipsos poll. And only 15 percent of those voters “strongly agree” with that.
“It’s pretty scary when voters don’t have faith that the government is running this process correctly and fairly,” said Christy McCormick, vice chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. “Faith in how elections are run are critical to voter turnout, to the whole process of elections.”
Kyle Kondik, who analyzes elections at the Center for Politics, agreed, “I don’t think there’s been a lot of positivity about American politics and our election system in general.”
A report released last Thursday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, cited several problems, including aging machines, a shortage of poll workers and cyberthreats.