• on November 3, 2020

Ready for What Lies Ahead: Protecting Our Elections

Election day feels like the culmination of four years of effort to oppose the corrosive politics of hate, division, and lies; the moment of truth in a movement built on the bedrock of our constitution, and in defense of liberty, equality and truth. No matter how this election turns out, there are more fights in our future, and there are other battles raging as we speak. The work of defending democracy is never truly complete.

That is not to say that we shouldn’t take a moment tomorrow or the day after to reflect with pride on all we’ve accomplished and on our role in fighting for American democracy.  Free and fair elections, no matter how contentious, are a cause for celebration, and the fulfillment of the promise of individual liberty. That’s one reason why the authoritarian-minded work so hard to undermine and delegitimize them, and why we fight so hard to protect them.

We continue fighting to ensure that Trumpism is defeated so completely that we never again entertain populism, ethno-nationalism or authoritarianism in America. Yet others are working to exploit our uncertainties and divisions for their own power. Sadly, those bad actors aren’t just shadowy foreign governments, they include American citizens and politicians who will also spread disinformation to create confusion and animosity. That’s why we need everyone to stand up to the lies and chaos, and for truth and accountability.

First and foremost, we should acknowledge and accept that we may not have a conclusive winner announced on Election Day or even in the days immediately following. Absentee, military, and mail-in ballots may take days to count, and could even face legal challenges. While the President keeps lying about those ballots, and baselessly calling it fraud, due diligence in counting every vote is neither fraudulent, nor suspicious. It is the normal course of elections.

We already have reports that Donald Trump intends to declare victory tomorrow, regardless of how the vote count is going. If he does so, it will be to introduce a false narrative that rallies his base to undermine any election result that doesn’t favor him. Additionally, we are likely to see him and his supporters – some of whom may be administration officials – spreading dubious stories and photos alleging the election is being “stolen.” 

They will likely try to flood our feeds and streams with unfounded claims, muddying the waters around our election and casting doubt on the vote’s legitimacy. We must do our part to stop the spread of disinformation and defend the validity of our votes. We do that by not spreading the claims, and debunking lies where we see them. Most importantly, we must not validate the tactics, lies, or extremism being practiced by Trump-world. 

Some bad actors will want to see violence in our streets, but we must be peaceful. They want to see us fight amongst ourselves, but we must be united. They want Americans to believe that our elections are hopelessly broken. We must show that we know better, and while we demand accountability and the rule of law, we do so not to invalidate votes, but to better secure our rights. 

Once we have confirmed, official electoral results from states, our duty as Americans is to accept those results. Many Americans will celebrate an electoral victory, and that is to be expected.Others will be disappointed, which is also normal. But what we cannot allow to happen, is for our division to widen and calcify. We must bring the nation together as best we can, and that starts with being gracious towards good-faith political opponents, and finding common ground. That’s a job we all share.

Most years, our job as citizens is done once we cast our votes. But if we’ve learned anything from the Trump era, it’s this: we cannot rest on our laurels and take for granted our ideals, norms and institutions. Rather, we must proactively defend them. That is where we should turn our attention now.

Help protect our elections:

  1. Identify, debunk, and stop the spread of disinformation, including early victory claims.
  2. Honor our history of peaceful transitions of power, by rejecting calls for violence and confrontation.
  3. Protect the results, once they’ve been verified and certified. Join the Protect the Results coalition for more ways to help.

This election season has dragged on seemingly forever, and the anticipation and anxiety going into this final day of voting are high. We cannot succumb to the fatigue of this fight. This moment is critical to the health of our country. We cannot just vote, we must stand up in defense of our elections themselves. We’ve prepared for this moment for years, and we are ready for the challenges ahead.

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