How open government can uphold election integrity

Here’s the good news: The 2016 election is not rigged.

Here’s the bad news: Across the United States, the local officials charged with conducting a free and fair election are facing an unprecedented wave of distrust.

“We have never seen this amount of calls. We spend an inordinate amount of time … responding to people,” Tom Schedler, secretary of state for Louisiana, said in October at the Bipartisan Policy Center, commenting on rigging claims. “There is no validity to that whatsoever,” he said. “Unfortunately, most people we’re responding to, it makes no difference what you show them to debunk the theory — they don’t believe it.”

Unfortunately, public outcry isn’t focused on the problems that have led to the U.S. election system being ranked at the bottom of Western democracies by the Election Integrity Project, like gerrymandering, discriminatory electoral laws, campaign finance or voter registration accuracy.

Instead, they’re focused on process, like polling stations, vote counting and post-election results, all of which the U.S. compares well; research shows that voter fraud is vanishingly rare in the United States, with clerical errors and bad data accounting for most reports. In the face of these bogus voter fraud claims, what can federal, state and local officials do?