Free, Fair and Healthy Elections in 2020

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Free, Fair and Healthy Elections in 2020

A 2020 election-focused resource hub for research, analysis and commentary from scholars at FSI.


Election Integrity Partnership seal logo


The EIP is a newly launched coalition of research entities whose objective is to detect and mitigate the impact of attempts to prevent or deter people from voting or to delegitimize election results.
Healthy Elections Project


The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project was developed to ensure that the 2020 election can proceed with integrity, safety, and equal access.
A young woman wearing a QAnon shirt in Germany

Inside the Fight Against Election Disinformation

Renée DiResta is leading the fight against online disinformation. On the World Class Podcast, she describes what it’s like to expose malign actors in the emerging world of ceaseless propaganda and conspiracy theories.

Vote by mail

How to Ensure a Free and Fair Election During a Pandemic

On the World Class Podcast, Nathaniel Persily weighs in on the risk of voter fraud, questions about mail-in ballots, and his work with the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

Woman at a voting machine

Our Democracy Depends on a Safe Election in November

On the World Class Podcast with host Michael McFaul, guests Larry Diamond and Nathaniel Persily discuss what needs to be done to ensure a healthy election in November.

Pre-Election Video Roll

Nate Persily seminar

Administering an Election During a Pandemic with Nate Persily

Fighting Election-Related Disinformation with the Election Integrity Partnership

Fighting Election-Related Disinformation with the Election Integrity Partnership

Social Media and Democracy - Daphne Keller

Social Media and Democracy Symposium

Nate Persily

Election Security: Are We There Yet? [How to Hold a Secure Election]

CDDRL seminar

American Democracy and the 2020 Elections

CDDRL seminar 2

Public Policy and the 2020 Elections

Blog Series: Preserving American Democracy

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The Imperative of a Free and Fair Presidential Election in November

Despite obstacles, a free and fair presidential election in November 2020 is still possible, write Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.
Election map

Lessons from Primary Elections in August for Election Day in November

Many state officials demonstrated a passion and creativity for creating the necessary conditions for Americans to vote in August. But additional reforms are required for November, write Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.
Vote by mail

Yes, Voting by Mail Remains Safe, Fair, and Democratic in 2020

Voting by mail does not create opportunities for fraud, nor in the past has it advantaged one party or the other. If given sufficient time, there is every reason to believe that all votes will be counted, irrespective of the way they were cast, argue Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.
Mail in voting

In-Person Voting Requires Safe and Accessible Solutions

Amidst a rapidly changing environment, it is more important than ever that all Americans are empowered to cast their ballots safely, including in-person if they so choose, say Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.

Four Years Later, How is Russian Interference Different in the 2020 Election?

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his proxies are at it again, but the Kremlin’s campaign includes some notably different tactics this time around, write Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.
Voting in Georgia

To Foster a Free and Fair Election, American Voters Must Stay Calm and Patient

Even after casting their ballots, American voters still have a role to play in helping to foster a free and fair election, say Michael McFaul and Bronte Kass.

FSI Analysis and Commentary

EIP election official handbook

Election Official Handbook: Preparing for Misinformation

The Election Integrity Partnership has analyzed roughly 400 cases of election-related dis- and misinformation on social media in the last eight weeks. This memo distills the findings and presents best practices for the benefit of U.S. election officials.
Women in front of White House

What Protests For Racial Justice Tell Us About U.S. Democracy

American democracy is facing its most serious challenge in decades, says Larry Diamond on the World Class Podcast. But there are signs of hope.
image of front cover of securing american elections

'Securing American Elections' Report Offers a Policy Road Map

A white paper by FSI scholars urges policymakers, in both government and the private sector, to act immediately in order to protect the integrity and independence of U.S. elections, particularly in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
hand holding a phone

Recommendations to Safeguard Democratic Elections Around the World

A recent report by FSI scholars takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by democracy today and makes a number of recommendations as to how best to tackle the threats posed by social media to free and fair elections.

Scholar-Authored Articles

I’m a Democracy Expert. I Never Thought We’d Be So Close to a Breakdown — Larry Diamond (The New York Times, 11/1/20).

The Right’s Disinformation Machine Is Getting Ready for Trump to Lose — Renee DiResta (The Atlantic, 10/20/20).

The Stakes of the Coming Election — Francis Fukuyama (American Purpose, 10/13/20). 

Most Voters Confident their Vote will be Counted, Poll Finds. But Partisans Disagree on Election Threats — Nathaniel Persily (The Washington Post, 10/7/20).

Americans Increasingly Believe Violence is Justified if the Other Side Wins — Larry Diamond (Politico, 10/1/20).

With Six Weeks to the Election, Six Ways to Protect It — Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times, 9/20/20).

‘It’s 8 P.M. on Election Day.’ Experts Share Their Nightmare Scenarios — Renée DiResta, Christopher Painter, and Alex Stamos (The New York Times, 9/9/20).

The Terrifying Inadequacy of American Election Law — Larry Diamond (The Atlantic, 9/8/20).

How Might the Sleeper Agents From “The Americans” Interfere in the Election? — Herbert Lin (Lawfare, 8/4/20).

Ensuring Electoral Integrity — Stephen Stedman (The American Interest, 7/10/20). 

The Looming Threat to Voting in Person — Nathaniel Persily (The Atlantic, 6/27/20).

The Danger of Electoral Violence in the United States — Stephen Stedman (The American Interest, 6/19/20).

It’s Not Too Late to Save the 2020 Election — Nathaniel Persily (The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/20).

Spies, Lies, and Algorithms — Amy Zegart (Foreign Affairs, 5/15/20). 

We Need to Start Preparing for the November Election Now — Michael McFaul (The Washington Post, 4/15/20).

Scholars in the Media

Twitter, Facebook Suspend Some Accounts as U.S. Election Misinformation Spreads Online — Alex Stamos (Reuters, 11/3/20).

Are We Having a Healthy Election? — Nathaniel Persily (Lawfare, 11/3/20). 

Voters and Lawmakers Bracing for Election Night Uncertainty — Nathaniel Persily (NBC News, 11/2/20). 

Early Voting Tally Across U.S. Reaches 70% of 2016 Total Turnout — Nathaniel Persily (U.S. News & World Report, 11/2/20). 

Disinformation Investigators: Stanford Students Sleuth for False, Misleading Reports On How to Vote — Alex Stamos (Stanford News, 11/2/20).

Trump Can Declare Whatever He Wants, But It Doesn’t Make It So — Nathaniel Persily (The Washington Post, 11/2/20).

Election Integrity Expert: Poll Workers are 'Unsung Heroes' — Nathaniel Persily (NBC News, 11/1/20). 

If 2020 is like 2000, Trump Believes He’s Got the Votes — Nathaniel Persily (The Associated Press, 10/31/20).

The Fight Against Election Day Falsehoods — Renee DiResta (Slate, 10/30/20).

Four More Years? A Biden Landslide? What Could Happen on Election Day? — Nathaniel Persily (Sky News, 10/30/20).

Most Important 2020 Election Misinformation Threat Is Not Coming from Overseas — Alex Stamos, (CNBC, 10/30/20).

Expert Warns Reporters Against Predicting Election Winners — Nathaniel Persily (Inquirer.Net, 10/29/20).

Top Security Experts On Potential Election Scenarios We Could See Play Out in 2020 — Christopher Painter (Boston 25 News, 10/29/20).

No Matter Who Wins the U.S. Election, Relations With China Are at a Crossroads — Oriana Skylar Mastro (TIME, 10/28/20).

How Far Might Trump Go? — Larry Diamond (The New York Times, 10/28/20).

Ahead of the U.S. Election, Online Misinformation Is Becoming Harder to Detect — Shelby Grossman (World Politics Review, 10/28/20).

As Supreme Court Weighs Election Cases, a New Life for Bush v. Gore — Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times. 10/28/20).

U.S. Election: The Taiwan-Sized Challenge Facing the Next U.S. President — Oriana Skylar Mastro (BBC News, 10/28/20).

When Will We Know the Results of the 2020 U.S. Election? It Could Get Complicated — Nathaniel Persily (Australian Broadcasting Company, 10/28/20).

Conservative News Sites Fuel Voter Fraud Misinformation — Stephen Stedman (The New York Times, 10/25/20).

No Matter Who Wins the U.S. Election, the World's 'Fake News' Problem is Here to Stay — Marietje Schaake (CNN, 10/25/20). 

How is the 2020 Election Different from 2016? — Nathaniel Persily (The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/20). 

The End of Democracy? If Trump Loses, Trumpism Still Wins — Francis Fukuyama (The Sydney Morning Herald, 10/23/20).

Would a Trump or Biden Victory be Better for Brexit? — Brett McGurk (The Daily Express, 10/22/20). 

Europe Wonders if It Can Rely on U.S. Again, Whoever Wins — Francis Fukuyama (The New York Times, 10/22/20).

'A Litigation Arms Race.' Why the 2020 Election Could Come Down to the Courts — Nathaniel Persily (TIME, 10/22/20).

How to Find Good Information on Election Night — Nathaniel Persily (Poynter, 10/21/20). 

Efforts to Undermine the Election are Too Big for Facebook and Twitter to Cope With — Renee DiResta (MIT Technology Review, 10/21/20).

Be Patient, Election Chiefs Say as States Gear Up for Long Ballot Count — Nathaniel Persily (Courthouse News Service, 10/20/20). 

As Election Day Nears, Some States are Still Determining Voting Rules — Nathaniel Persily (PBS News Hour, 10/20/20).

Federal Appeals Courts Emerge as Crucial for Trump in Voting Cases — Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times, 10/17/20).

On Election Coverage, CBS is Falling for the Same Trap it Did Four Years Ago — Michael McFaul (Media Matters for America, 10/17/20).

Can Big Tech Make Sure that 2020 is Not 2016? — Alex Stamos, (The New York Times, 10/15/20).

How to Avert a U.S. Election-Night Disaster — Nathaniel Persily (TVO, 10/14/20).

80 Million Americans May Vote By Mail in this Election. Here's How Most States Verify their Identities — Nathaniel Persily (NBC News, 10/14/20).

Trump Reportedly Wants to Ink Nuclear Deal with Russia Before Election — Rose Gottemoeller (New York Post, 10/12/20).

A 'Twitterized Bush v Gore 2.0'? It's Possible, Election Experts Say — Nathaniel Persily (ABC News, 10/11/20).
Twitter Will Turn Off Some Features to Fight Election Misinformation
— Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times, 10/9/20).

Impact on Presidential Race if Trump Skips Second Debate — Nathaniel Persily (NBC Bay Area, 10/9/20).

Virginia Democrats Face Choice Between Idealism and Revenge in Vote on Gerrymandering — Nathaniel Persily (The Washington Post, 10/5/20).

Here’s How to Vote in this Topsy-Turvy, Upside Down Presidential Election — Nathaniel Persily (New York Daily News, 10/3/20). 

What We Will Know on Election Night — Nathaniel Persily (Slate, 10/1/20). 

‘Worst Presidential Debate in History’: Foreigners Recoil at Trump and Biden’s Prime-Time Brawl — Marietje Schaake (Politico, 9/30/20).

Trump Says China Wants Him to Lose the U.S. Presidential Election. The Truth Is More Complex — Oriana Skylar Mastro (TIME, 9/29/20). 

Stanford Project Applies Human-Centered Design to In-Person Voting — Nathaniel Persily (Stanford News, 9/28/20).

Trump has Stacked the Federal Bench, but he's Not Winning Many Election Court Battles — Nathaniel Persily (CNN, 9/27/20). 

'Naked Ballots,' Explained: In Pennsylvania, New Court Ruling Complicates Mail-In Voting — Nathaniel Persily (NBC News, 9/27/20). 

Brett McGurk: 'Very Important' to get Mark Esper 'On the Record' about Military Use Around Election — Brett McGurk (MSNBC, 9/25/20).

Presidential Hopefuls Gear Up for Costly Post-Election Legal Battles, as Trump Faces Cash Crunch — Nathaniel Persily (ABC News, 9/24/20). 

Facebook Issues Warning about Russian 'Hack-and-Leak' Operations Ahead of the 2020 Election — Alex Stamos (Business Insider, 9/24/20).

Stanford Law Professor: 'We're sort of Walking in Unprecedented Constitutional Territory'  — Nathaniel Persily (NBC, 9/24/20).

How the Supreme Court Could Affect Voting Rules on Election Day  — Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times, 9/21/20). 

Voting 2020: What to Know About Mail-In Ballots, Ovals and Election Night Results — Nathaniel Persily (The Buffalo News, 9/21/20).

In the Most Litigated Election Ever, Early Democratic Wins but Few Clear Signals — Nathaniel Persily (The New York Times, 9/18/20). 

Judge Orders Expanded Mail-In Voting in Louisiana for Presidential Election — Nathaniel Persily (FOX 8, 9/16/20).

Hackers Can’t Pick the Next President, Just Erode Trust in the Vote, Experts Say — Nathaniel Persily (, 9/16/20).

With Anxiety over Voting by Mail, We Need a New Strategy — Nathaniel Persily (The Washington Post, 9/14/20).

What To Expect When You’re Electing — Renée DiResta (WNYC, 9/11/20).

Stanford Scholars Find No Partisan Advantage of Mail-in, Absentee Voting but Other Challenges Lie Ahead — Nathaniel Persily (Stanford News, 9/9/20).

Facebook is Paying People to Stop Using it and Instagram Until the U.S. Election — Alex Stamos (Gizmodo, 9/8/20). 

Mail-In Voting has No Partisan Advantage, Stanford Researchers Say — Nathaniel Persily (Palo Alto Weekly, 9/8/20).

Facebook Won’t Stop Facebook from Spreading Lies about the Election — Alex Stamos (Vox, 9/3/20). 

What Do the Doomsday Clock and the Presidential Election Have in Common? — Herbert Lin (WNPR, 8/21/20).

Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results — Alex Stamos (The New York Times, 8/21/20).

Biden Supporters More Likely Than Trump’s to Vote by Mail, Poll Shows — Nathaniel Persily (The Wall Street Journal, 8/17/20).

Navigating 2020's Turbulent Election Season — Nathaniel Persily (KCBS Radio, 8/6/20). 

The Slow-Motion 2020 Election Disaster States are Scrambling to Prevent, Explained — Nathaniel Persily (Vox, 7/31/20).

The U.S. Election is in 100 Days: What are the Biggest Threats to It? — Nathaniel Persily (The Guardian, 7/26/20).

Media Contact: Ari Chasnoff, Associate Director for Communications