New Paper: How to Protect Election Integrity Without Disenfranchising Voters

January 19, 2016

Election Integrity: A Pro Voter Agenda Is Latest in “New Ideas for a New Democracy” Series

As America heads into another presidential election year in the midst of pitched battles over the right to vote, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law today released a six-part agenda to secure our elections from misconduct while maintaining fair access to the ballot.

Since the 2010 election, 21 states have new voting restrictions — and 15 will have them in effect for the first time in a presidential election in 2016. Yet many of these rules address only one form of misconduct, in-person voter impersonation, which is vanishingly rare.

The clamor over voting laws should not obscure a fundamental shared truth: American elections should be secure and free of misconduct, the Center argues in Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda. Throughout our nation’s history, however, most fraud has been committed by insiders, not individuals. And, in recent years, states have gone too far by passing voting rules that make it harder for many Americans to participate.

The Brennan Center’s paper outlines a six-part agenda to target fraud risks as they actually exist — without unduly disenfranchising eligible citizens. Proposals include plans to modernize voter registration, increase security of voting machines, and adopt only common-sense voter ID laws.

“We don’t have to choose between election integrity and election access. In fact, free and fair access is necessary for an election to have integrity,” wrote report author Myrna PĂ©rez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “It is vital that we protect voters from the real threats to the integrity of elections. Fortunately, it is possible to protect election integrity without disenfranchising eligible voters.”

Here is the six-part plan:

  1. Modernize Voter Registration to Improve Voter Rolls
  2. Ensure Security and Reliability of Our Voting Machines
  3. Do Not Implement Internet Voting Systems Until Security is Proven
  4. Adopt Only Common-Sense Voter Identification Proposals
  5. Increase Security of Mail-In Ballots
  6. Protect Against Insider Wrongdoing

The paper examines genuine risks to the security of elections, highlights current and future vulnerabilities, and recommends ways to reduce each risk.

Read the full report.

See the Brennan Center’s map of voting restrictions that will be in place for the first time in a presidential election in 2016.