Elections
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The Law of Democracy, Legal Structure of the Political Process book cover

This book created the field of the law of democracy, offering a systematic account of the legal construction of American democracy. This edition represents a significant revision that reflects the embattled state of democracy in the U.S. and abroad. With the addition of Franita Tolson as well as Nathaniel Persily to the prior edition, the book now turns to a changed legal environment following the radical reconfiguration of the Voting Rights Act, the rise of social media and circumvention of the formal channels of campaign finance, and the increased fragmentation of political parties. Strikingly, in the current political environment the right to register and vote passes from being a largely historical inquiry to a source of front-burner legal challenge. This edition further streamlines the coverage of the Voting Rights Act, expands the scope of coverage of campaign finance and political corruption issues, and turns to the new dispute over voter access to the ballot. The section on election litigation and remedies has been expanded to address the expanded range of legal challenges to election results. For the first time, this book isolates the distinct problems of presidential elections, ranging from the conflict over federal and state law in Bush v. Gore, to the distinct challenges to the 2020 presidential elections, to the renewed focus on the Electoral Count Act.

The basic structure of the book continues to follow the historical development of the individual right to vote; current struggles over gerrymandering; the relationship of the state to political parties; the constitutional and policy issues surrounding campaign-finance reform; and the tension between majority rule and fair representation of minorities in democratic bodies.

For more information and additional teaching materials, visit the companion site.

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This book created the field of the law of democracy, offering a systematic account of the legal construction of American democracy. This edition represents a significant revision that reflects the embattled state of democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

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Samuel Issacharoff
Pamela S. Karlan
Pamela S. Karlan
Nathaniel Persily
Franita Tolson
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Foundation Press
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6th Edition
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Christopher Giles is a researcher and open-source investigator focusing on information operations, and monitoring conflict and human rights issues.

Prior to joining Stanford University in 2021, Christopher reported on disinformation for BBC News, covering the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 U.S. election, where his reporting was “highly commended” by the Royal Statistical Society’s Journalism Awards. Christopher is a recipient of the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship and is pursing graduate studies in international policy and journalism.

Researcher, Stanford Internet Observatory
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abstract blue image with text Trust and Safety Research Conference

Join us September 29-30 for two days of cross-professional presentations and conversations designed to push forward research on trust and safety.

Hosted at Stanford University’s Frances. C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, the Trust and Safety Research Conference will convene trust and safety practitioners, people in government and civil society, and academics in fields like computer science, sociology, law, and political science to think deeply about trust and safety issues.

Your ticket gives you access to:

  • Two days of talks, panels, workshops, and breakouts
  • Networking opportunities, including happy hours on September 28, 29 and 30th.
  • Breakfast and lunch on September 29 and 30th.

Early bird tickets are $100 for attendees from academia and civil society and $500 for attendees from industry. Ticket prices go up August 1, 2022. Full refunds or substitutions will be honored until August 15, 2022. After August 15, 2022 no refunds will be allowed.

More information is available at: http://www.tsresearchconference.org

For questions, please contact us through internetobservatory@stanford.edu

Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center
326 Galvez Street
Stanford, CA 94305

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Donald K. Emmerson
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An edited version of this opinion piece first appeared in the 14 July 2022 issue of The Jakarta Post.


How preoccupied is America with its own domestic problems? To the point of impairing the ability of President Biden’s administration to give Indonesia and Southeast Asia the foreign-policy attention they deserve?

The Group of Twenty’s meetings are now at or near the top of the Indonesian foreign ministry’s list of things to do. Foreign minister Retno Marsudi has worried, amid talk of boycotts, that Moscow-Washington animosity over Ukraine could ruin the G20 summit in Bali this November, to the embarrassment of its Indonesian host and chair. Presumably to her relief, Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Indonesia to attend in person the preparatory G20 foreign ministers meeting that she hosted and chaired in Bali on 7-8 July 2022, and he did so despite the participation of his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.  In addition to holding a one-on-one session with Marsudi, Blinken also met with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi for a discussion of US-China relations that reportedly lasted five hours. Indonesia can take pride in having made that lengthy interaction possible. 

The foreign ministers’ meeting was not without drama. Twice, in response to criticism of Russia, Lavrov walked out of the room, and he left the conference altogether before it ended. Perhaps he forgot that in democracies, praise is not required.  But things in Bali could have gotten much worse, and in that sense America’s presence throughout the event helped save Indonesia’s face.

Biden’s administration has not neglected Indonesia or Southeast Asia, as recent diplomacy shows. In May he accommodated the priority on economic development favored by Indonesia and other Asian states by traveling to Japan to announce the formation of an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). Its 14 founding partners, including Indonesia and six other ASEAN members, account for 40 percent of global GDP. Earlier in May, in Washington, DC, Biden hosted a special summit with Indonesia and other ASEAN states. Their Joint Vision Statement with the US, as in IPEF, emphasized economic cooperation.

None of this diplomacy, however, could temper the strident political polarization that continues to disrupt America. Understandably, that frenzy of distrust and dissension has led some Indonesians to wonder how reliable a partner the US will turn out to be in years to come.    

The splitting of many Americans into rival partisan camps is in part structural. For example, compared with better-educated urban and suburban dwellers, less well-educated rural and small-town Americans are more likely to hold right-wing Republican views. The reasons why those views have become more extreme include the popularity of Donald Trump and his anti-democratic if not proto-fascistic campaign to re-install himself in the White House after losing the free and fair election of 2020.  His effort, Republican complicity in it, and the backlash against it have widened the separation of often coastal or near-coastal Democratic states from Republican ones more or less clustered in middle and southern America. Political scientist and statistician Simon Jackman goes so far as to argue that the US has not been this divided politically since the Great Depression of the 1930s—or possibly even since the 1860s Civil War.

The Vanderbilt University Project on Unity and American Democracy chooses the longer timeline. “Not since the Civil War,” it concludes, “have so many Americans held such radically opposed views not just of politics but of reality itself.” The project’s own findings, however, undermine the caricature of a country fatally hobbled by national schizophrenia and group delusions. 

The Vanderbilt Unity Index combines quarterly data from 1981 to 2021 on five variables—presidential disapproval, congressional polarization, ideological extremism, social mistrust, and civil unrest—to calculate changes in American national unity across those four decades on a 0-to-100 scale, from least to most unified. Over that period of time, the index has fluctuated in a close to middling zone between 50 and 70 on that 100-point scale. 

The index shows deep plunges in unity only twice since 1981, and both of those dives were linked to the uniquely calamitous presidency of President Trump. In contrast, the average score during the first five quarters of the Biden administration has been 58, a sharp improvement from the average of 51 under Trump. Heartened by that betterment, two of the Vanderbilt scholars surmise that America’s “disharmony may be dissipating.”

That could be an overoptimistic guess. Unity is one thing, victory another. Legislative elections will be held on 8 November this year. As of the end of June, prominent forecaster Nate Silver gave the still largely Trump-beholden Republican Party an 87 percent chance — a near-certainty — of replacing Biden’s Democrats as the majority party in the House of Representatives. The race for a majority in the Senate was too close to call. But even if Republicans control only the House, they will likely use that platform to undermine Biden’s administration during his final two years in office.      

As if likely losses of legislative power were not enough for Biden to worry about, maneuvers by Republicans to stack the Supreme Court with right-wing partisans have tilted that juridical balance steeply in their favor. The court’s new reactionary 6-to-3 majority has already made two shocking decisions. They have, in effect, denied women their long-standing right to abortion and made it easier to carry a concealed gun in public. Republicans claim to support individual rights. But they and their court appointees have deleted the long-standing constitutional right of a pregnant woman to decide whether to give birth or not, thereby depriving her of assured responsibility over her physical body and personal future. 

Regarding gun violence, in barely five months from 1 January through 5 June of this year, America has experienced 246 mass shootings — incidents that kill or wound four or more people. That puts the US on track in 2022 to match or exceed its record of 692 mass shootings in 2021, more than in any year since the Gun Violence Archive began counting them. The Republican-majority court’s unconscionable impulses seem to be to make women make more babies, wanted or not, and to make murders more likely as well.

There is good news. First, a massive popular backlash against these Republican decisions has either begun or is likely. Second, a nationally televised Congressional investigation of the violent attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 has displayed the complicity of Trump, and by association the Trump-infected Republican Party, in an insurrection that killed at least seven people and injured roughly 150 more. Third, although Trump may not end up where he belongs, namely, in jail, at least he faces Republican rivals for the party’s nomination to run for president in 2024. Conceivably those rivals could come to include a candidate who is politically more moderate and personally less criminal, corrupt, and narcissistic than he. 

President Joko Widodo will host the G20 leaders in Indonesia merely one week after the 8 November 2022 midterm legislative election takes place in the US. Will Biden go again to Bali? Not if at that time right-wing fanatics claiming election fraud are destabilizing America. For long-term interactions between Jakarta and Washington relations, however, what will matter is not who will attend the 2022 G20 summit in Bali. It will be the names and plans of the Indonesians and Americans who will run and win in the national elections to be held in their respective countries in 2024.


Donald K. Emmerson heads the Southeast Asia Program at Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. His recent publications include an edited volume, The Deer and the Dragon: Southeast Asia and China in the 21st Century.

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For long-term Jakarta and Washington relations, what will matter is not who will attend the 2022 G20 summit in Bali. It will be the names and plans of the Indonesians and Americans who will run and win in the national elections to be held in their respective countries in 2024.

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Nora Sulots
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The Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is pleased to announce that effective July 1, 2022, the Center for Deliberative Democracy (CDD) has transitioned from the Department of Communication to CDDRL as the newly named Deliberative Democracy Lab (DDL).

For the last two decades, CDD has focused its work on the theory and practice of deliberative democracy, especially as implemented via Deliberative Polling® — a concept originated in 1988 by Professor James Fishkin, the Janet M. Peck Chair of International Communication. Sometimes called “the poll with a human face,” Deliberative Polling shows what the public would think about an issue both before and after it has considered an issue in depth under good conditions and with good information.

Under the helm of Fishkin and Associate Director Alice Siu, CDD has conducted over 100 Deliberative Polls in 34 countries at varying levels of government and on a variety of topics. In Mongolia, the Parliament passed ‘The Law on Deliberative Polling’ that requires a national Deliberative Poll prior to any amendments to the constitution. In 2019, a national Deliberative Poll was conducted for such a purpose, and the Parliament subsequently passed amendments based on the Deliberative Poll. Also in 2019, a national US Deliberative Poll called America in One Room brought together over 500 participants in-person to Dallas, TX, where participants discussed policy proposals ranging from immigration to climate to foreign policy. The project was a national controlled experiment with participants recruited by NORC at the University of Chicago and yielded immense media coverage, including a video produced by CNN, a tweet from President Barack Obama, and a front-page article in the New York Times, as well as several Op-Eds in the Times and elsewhere.

"A key tenet of CDDRL's research agenda is identifying ways to foster democracy, both domestically and around the world," said Mosbacher Director Kathryn Stoner. "The work being done by the Deliberative Democracy Lab (DDL) is intrinsically aligned with our Center's mission. The work that Jim Fishkin and his colleagues have already done is truly unique and field-defining. At CDDRL, we look forward to further building on this outstanding track record to establish the Deliberative Democracy Lab as the global hub for developing, administering, and analyzing deliberative polling. No other university has anything like it."

“We believe the methods of deliberative democracy can help cure the ills of our current politics — in the US and around the world,” shared Fishkin. “This partnership with CDDRL and FSI will give us a new basis for trying to make this happen. We are proud to join the impressive collection of scholars already at work here on issues of democracy and political reform.”

We believe the methods of deliberative democracy can help cure the ills of our current politics — in the US and around the world.
James S. Fishkin
Janet M. Peck Chair of International Communication and Director of the Deliberative Democracy Lab

Fishkin, who has been named a Senior Fellow at FSI, will continue to serve as the Lab’s Director alongside Siu as Associate Director, now a Senior Research Scholar at CDDRL. Larry Diamond, the Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at FSI, will also continue to be affiliated with the Lab as a faculty collaborator.

“In the United States and around the world, democracies must find new ways to elicit citizen engagement, deeper public participation in policy-making, and reduce toxic levels of political polarization,” said Diamond. “The method of Deliberative Polling that Jim Fishkin and Alice Siu have developed and applied worldwide has demonstrated impressive progress toward these goals, and it has been my honor to collaborate with them.”

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A group deliberating during the America in One Room national Deliberation Poll in Dallas, TX, 2019

Rounding out the team for the newly formed Lab, Tom Schnaubelt, currently Director of the Haas Center for Public Service, will join DDL in a new role as Lecturer and Senior Advisor on Civic Education, effective August 1, 2022. “The Deliberative Democracy Lab is an exciting addition to the work of CDDRL, and as Senior Advisor, Tom Schnaubelt will greatly advance our efforts to promote deliberation and civic engagement among college students,” Diamond added.

Schnaubelt began his tenure at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University in April 2009 and has been actively involved in developing innovative community engagement programs in higher education settings for nearly two decades. Prior to assuming the role of executive director at the Haas Center for Public Service, Tom served as dean for community engagement and civic learning at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and was the founding executive director of Wisconsin Campus Compact, where he provided leadership for a coalition of thirty-four college and university presidents and chancellors committed to the civic purposes of higher education.

“I’ve been increasingly concerned about the fragility of our democracy,” shared Schnaubelt. “I believe that sustaining, strengthening, and perhaps even saving our democracy is a prerequisite to creating a more just and sustainable world. I also believe that universities have a distinct and important role to play in advancing liberal democracy, particularly through the cultivation of democratic knowledge, habits, skills, and dispositions. As I begin this next chapter, I am grateful for the opportunity, and I am thrilled to be able to be a part of Stanford University’s efforts to build a more perfect union.”

“I believe that sustaining, strengthening, and perhaps even saving our democracy is a prerequisite to creating a more just and sustainable world, and that universities have a distinct and important role to play in advancing liberal democracy."
Tom Schnaubelt

As political polarization becomes a more urgent challenge to democracy in the United States and elsewhere, and as a growing number of democratic jurisdictions look for innovative ways to involve the public more meaningfully in decision-making, the demand for Deliberative Polls is increasing. In its new home at CDDRL, the Lab will be able to enhance its capacity to meet growing demands and expand the contributions it can make to both the study and the practice of deliberative democracy.

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Together For Our Planet: Americans are More Aligned on Taking Action on Climate Change than Expected

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Commentary

Presidential candidates advance by being divisive. We can do better than that.

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What if There’s a Better Way to Handle Our Democratic Debate?

What if There’s a Better Way to Handle Our Democratic Debate?
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The Deliberative Democracy Lab (formerly the Center for Deliberative Democracy) is devoted to research about democracy and public opinion obtained through Deliberative Polling® and related democratic processes.

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Democracy When the People Are Thinking: Revitalizing Our Politics Through Public Deliberation

Democracy requires a connection to the “will of the people.” What does that mean in a world of “fake news,” relentless advocacy, dialogue mostly among the like-minded, and massive spending to manipulate public opinion? What kind of opinion can the public have under such conditions? What would democracy be like if the people were really thinking in depth about the policies they must live with?

This book argues that “deliberative democracy” is not utopian. It is a practical solution to many of democracy’s ills. It can supplement existing institutions with practical reforms. It can apply at all levels of government and for many different kinds of policy choices. This book speaks to a recurring dilemma: listen to the people and get the angry voices of populism or rely on widely distrusted elites and get policies that seem out of touch with the public’s concerns. Instead, there are methods for getting a representative and thoughtful public voice that is really worth listening to. Democracy is under siege in most countries. Democratic institutions have low approval and face a resurgent threat from authoritarian regimes. Deliberative democracy can provide an antidote. It can reinvigorate our democratic politics.

Democracy When the People Are Thinking draws on the author’s research with many collaborators on “Deliberative Polling”—a process he has conducted in twenty-seven countries on six continents. It contributes both to political theory and to the empirical study of public opinion and participation and should interest anyone concerned about the future of democracy and how it can be revitalized.

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James S. Fishkin
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Oxford University Press
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Melissa De Witte, Taylor Kubota, Ker Than
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Ker Than
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During a speech at Stanford University on Thursday, April 21, 2022, former U.S. President Barack Obama presented his audience with a stark choice: “Do we allow our democracy to wither, or do we make it better?”

Over the course of an hour-long address, Obama outlined the threat that disinformation online, including deepfake technology powered by AI, poses to democracy as well as ways he thought the problems might be addressed in the United States and abroad.

“This is an opportunity, it’s a chance that we should welcome for governments to take on a big important problem and prove that democracy and innovation can coexist,” Obama said.

Obama, who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017, was the keynote speaker at a one-day symposium, titled “Challenges to Democracy in the Digital Information Realm,” co-hosted by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center and the Obama Foundation on the Stanford campus on April 21.

The event brought together people working in technology, policy, and academia for panel discussions on topics ranging from the role of government in establishing online trust, the relationship between democracy and tech companies, and the threat of digital authoritarians.

Obama told a packed audience of more than 600 people in CEMEX auditorium – as well as more than 250,000 viewers tuning in online – that everyone is part of the solution to make democracy stronger in the digital age and that all of us – from technology companies and their employees to students and ordinary citizens – must work together to adapt old institutions and values to a new era of information. “If we do nothing, I’m convinced the trends that we’re seeing will get worse,” he said.

Introducing the former president was Michael McFaul, director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama, and Stanford alum and Obama Foundation fellow, Tiana Epps-Johnson, BA ’08.

Epps-Johnson, who is the founder and executive director of the Center for Tech and Civic Life, recalled her time answering calls to an election protection hotline during the 2006 midterm election. She said the experience taught her an important lesson, which was that “the overall health of our democracy, whether we have a voting process that is fair and trustworthy, is more important than any one election outcome.”

Stanford freshman Evan Jackson said afterward that Obama’s speech resonated with him. “I use social media a lot, every day, and I’m always seeing all the fake news that can be spread easily. And I do understand that when you have controversy attached to what you’re saying, it can reach larger crowds,” Jackson said. “So if we do find a way to better contain the controversy and the fake news, it can definitely help our democracy stay powerful for our nation.”

The Promise and Perils Technology Poses to Democracy


In his keynote, Obama reflected on how technology has transformed the way people create and consume media. Digital and social media companies have upended traditional media – from local newspapers to broadcast television, as well as the role these outlets played in society at large.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the American public tuned in to one of three major networks, and while media from those earlier eras had their own set of problems – such as excluding women and people of color – they did provide people with a shared culture, Obama said.

Moreover, these media institutions, with established journalistic best practices for accuracy and accountability, also provided people with similar information: “When it came to the news, at least, citizens across the political spectrum tended to operate using a shared set of facts – what they saw or what they heard from Walter Cronkite or David Brinkley.”

Fast forward to today, where everyone has access to individualized news feeds that are fed by algorithms that reward the loudest and angriest voices (and which technology companies profit from). “You have the sheer proliferation of content, and the splintering of information and audiences,” Obama observed. “That’s made democracy more complicated.”

Facts are competing with opinions, conspiracy theories, and fiction. “For more and more of us, search and social media platforms aren’t just our window into the internet. They serve as our primary source of news and information,” Obama said. “No one tells us that the window is blurred, subject to unseen distortions, and subtle manipulations.”

The splintering of news sources has also made all of us more prone to what psychologists call “confirmation bias,” Obama said. “Inside our personal information bubbles, our assumptions, our blind spots, our prejudices aren’t challenged, they are reinforced and naturally, we’re more likely to react negatively to those consuming different facts and opinions – all of which deepens existing racial and religious and cultural divides.”

But the problem is not just that our brains can’t keep up with the growing amount of information online, Obama argued. “They’re also the result of very specific choices made by the companies that have come to dominate the internet generally, and social media platforms in particular.”

The former president also made clear that he did not think technology was to blame for many of our social ills. Racism, sexism, and misogyny, all predate the internet, but technology has helped amplify them.

“Solving the disinformation problem won’t cure all that ails our democracies or tears at the fabric of our world, but it can help tamp down divisions and let us rebuild the trust and solidarity needed to make our democracy stronger,” Obama said.

He gave examples of how social media has fueled violence and extremism around the world. For example, leaders from countries such as Russia to China, Hungary, the Philippines, and Brazil have harnessed social media platforms to manipulate their populations. “Autocrats like Putin have used these platforms as a strategic weapon against democratic countries that they consider a threat,” Obama said.

He also called out emerging technologies such as AI for their potential to sow further discord online. “I’ve already seen demonstrations of deep fake technology that show what looks like me on a screen, saying stuff I did not say. It’s a strange experience people,” Obama said. “Without some standards, implications of this technology – for our elections, for our legal system, for our democracy, for rules of evidence, for our entire social order – are frightening and profound.”

‘Regulation Has to Be Part of the Answer’


Obama discussed potential solutions for addressing some of the problems he viewed as contributing to a backsliding of democracy in the second half of his talk.

In an apt metaphor for a speech delivered in Silicon Valley, Obama compared the U.S. Constitution to software for running society. It had “a really innovative design,” Obama said, but also significant bugs. “Slavery. You can discriminate against entire classes of people. Women couldn’t vote. Even white men without property couldn’t vote, couldn’t participate, weren’t part of ‘We the People.’”

The amendments to the Constitution were akin to software patches, the former president said, that allowed us to “continue to perfect our union.”

Similarly, governments and technology companies should be willing to introduce changes aimed at improving civil discourse online and reducing the amount of disinformation on the internet, Obama said.

“The internet is a tool. Social media is a tool. At the end of the day, tools don’t control us. We control them. And we can remake them. It’s up to each of us to decide what we value and then use the tools we’ve been given to advance those values,” he said.

The former president put forth various solutions for combating online disinformation, including regulation, which many tech companies fiercely oppose.

“Here in the United States, we have a long history of regulating new technologies in the name of public safety, from cars and airplanes to prescription drugs to appliances,” Obama said. “And while companies initially always complain that the rules are going to stifle innovation and destroy the industry, the truth is that a good regulatory environment usually ends up spurring innovation, because it raises the bar on safety and quality. And it turns out that innovation can meet that higher bar.”

In particular, Obama urged policymakers to rethink Section 230, enacted as part of the United States Communications Decency Act in 1996, which ​​stipulates that generally, online platforms cannot be held liable for content that other people post on their website.

But technology has changed dramatically over the past two decades since Section 230 was enacted, Obama said. “These platforms are not like the old phone company.”

He added: “In some cases, industry standards may replace or substitute for regulation, but regulation has to be part of the answer.”

Obama also urged technology companies to be more transparent in how they operate and “at minimum” should share with researchers and regulators how some of their products and services are designed so there is some accountability.

The responsibility also lies with ordinary citizens, the former president said. “We have to take it upon ourselves to become better consumers of news – looking at sources, thinking before we share, and teaching our kids to become critical thinkers who know how to evaluate sources and separate opinion from fact.”

Obama warned that if the U.S. does not act on these issues, it risks being eclipsed in this arena by other countries. “As the world’s leading democracy, we have to set a better example. We should be able to lead on these discussions internationally, not [be] in the rear. Right now, Europe is forging ahead with some of the most sweeping legislation in years to regulate the abuses that are seen in big tech companies,” Obama said. “Their approach may not be exactly right for the United States, but it points to the need for us to coordinate with other democracies. We need to find our voice in this global conversation.”

 

Transcript of President Obama's Keynote

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Full-Spectrum Pro-Kremlin Online Propaganda about Ukraine

Narratives from overt propaganda, unattributed Telegram channels, and inauthentic social media accounts
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At a conference hosted by the Cyber Policy Center and Obama Foundation, former U.S. President Barack Obama delivered the keynote address about how information is created and consumed, and the threat that disinformation poses to democracy.

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Michael Breger
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Center Director Gi-wook Shin discussed the results of the South Korean presidential election on CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia." 

After a particularly contentious race, conservative People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, who won with less than one percent of the popular vote, indicated his resolve to bring unity to the country. Shin, however, is skeptical of the new president's ability to do so, stating "I have been warning about backsliding in Korean democracy...the new president has a lot of challenges to integrate Korean society, [which] has become divisive and highly polarized...We might expect a lot of tensions and fights in the coming years."

"It is one thing to win the election, but [Yoon] still has no experience as a political leader"
Gi-wook Shin

When asked about how domestic political polarization might translate into policymaking, Shin said that Yoon's lack of formal political experience, combined with the opposition party holding control over the legislature, will prove to be a challenge in tackling both domestic and international issues.

"It is one thing to win the election, but [Yoon] still has no experience as a political leader, and Korea has a lot of challenges, a lot of problems internally and also in foreign policy. So will [Yoon] be able to bring unity to Korean society? I hope he could, but frankly speaking, I am skeptical he will be able to."

(L to R) South Korea's presidential candidates, Lee Jae-myung, Ahn Cheol-soo, Sim Sang-jung, and Yoon Suk-yeol pose for photograph ahead of a televised presidential debate at MBC studio on February 21, 2022, Seoul.
Keep up-to-date on the latest analysis of Korea's presidential election and the future of its democracy with APARC's resource page.

Shin has written about South Korea's democratic backsliding and has offered analyses of Korea's presidential election on numerous media outlets. APARC's resource page on the ROK 2022 presidential election and the future of Korean democracy curates these insights and more. Among other media interviews, Shin discussed Yoon's ascendance with AFP, noting that the president-elect "built his reputation as a fierce fighter against power abuse, not a conventional democratic leader who would value negotiation and comprise." 

Yoon became the conservatives' "icon" because he was "seen as the best person to beat the Democratic Party candidate, despite his lack of political leadership experience," Shin said.

"That does not bode well for Korean democracy as we may expect further polarization," he added.

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Young people protesting in South Korea
Commentary

South Koreans Are Rethinking What China Means to Their Nation

A new study illuminates the potential effects of anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea.
South Koreans Are Rethinking What China Means to Their Nation
Yoon Seok-Youl
Commentary

What Does Korea’s 2022 Presidential Election Mean for Its Democracy?

The ongoing South Korean presidential race holds significant sociopolitical implications for the future of democracy as democratic backsliding has now become an undeniable reality in South Korea.
What Does Korea’s 2022 Presidential Election Mean for Its Democracy?
Protesters participate in a rally oppose a planned visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi near the Chinese Embassy on November 25, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea.
Commentary

The Rise of Anti-Chinese Sentiments in South Korea: Political and Security Implications

APARC and Korea Program Director Gi-Wook Shin shares insights on rising anti-China sentiments in South Korea and their implications for the upcoming South Korean presidential election.
The Rise of Anti-Chinese Sentiments in South Korea: Political and Security Implications
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On CNBC's "Squawk Box Asia," APARC Director Gi-wook Shin shares insights about the potential for democratic backsliding and further domestic tension after Yoon Suk-yeol’s victory in the contentious presidential election in South Korea.

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100% Democracy Book Talk

Today’s headlines are filled with arguments over restrictions on the right to vote and attempts to expand it. But what if we leapt over the current argument, and made a commitment to a ‘100% Democracy’, an election process where every citizen has the right to vote and full opportunities to do so—but also the duty to vote, a requirement to participate in our national choices?

In 100% Democracy:  The Case for Universal Voting, co-authors E.J. Dionne and Miles Rapoport argue for just that, and it’s not as far out as it sounds at first hearing.  Twenty-six countries around the world require participation in elections including Australia, which has required citizens to cast a ballot since 1924 and had over 90% voter turnout in their last major election. The U.S. on the other hand lags behind other democracies, with only 66.8% of eligible voters participating in the record-turnout election of 2020. If Americans are required to pay taxes and serve on juries, why not ask—or require—every American to vote?

Join us on Tuesday, April 5, for a conversation with Dionne and Rapoport about 100% Democracy, universal voting, and how it might be implemented. Is it time for the United States to take a major leap forward and recognize voting as both a fundamental civil right and a solemn civic duty?

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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EJ Dionne
E.J. Dionne is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, a professor at Georgetown University, and visiting professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country.
 

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Miles Rapoport
Miles Rapoport is the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. He formerly served in the Connecticut state legislature and as Connecticut’s secretary of the state. He also served as president of Demos and of Common Cause.

Didi Kuo
E.J. Dionne Senior Fellow Author Brookings Institution
Miles Rapoport Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy Author Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School
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Gi-Wook Shin
Haley Gordon
Hannah June Kim
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This article first appeared in the online magazine American Purpose.  

On March 9, South Koreans head to the voting booths to elect their new president. Although conventional wisdom posits that foreign affairs have little effect on voting preferences, South Koreans have defied this prediction in the past—and now, they may once again. Indeed, the atmosphere in this year’s election recalls that of 2002, when anti-American sentiments swept the South Korean presidential election. This time, it may be anti-Chinese sentiments that make an impact.


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According to our survey of over one thousand South Koreans, conducted this past January, a large majority of respondents—78 percent—indicated that Republic of Korea (ROK)-China relations will be an important consideration when deciding which presidential candidate to vote for. Given that younger South Koreans are expected to be the deciding factor in this election, it is particularly significant that the figure rises to 82 percent for respondents in their twenties. Twenty years ago, anti-American sentiments tipped the vote in favor of Roh Moo-hyun, the liberal candidate, who pledged not to kowtow to the United States. This time, how will anti-Chinese sentiment play out in Seoul? Will it work in favor of the conservatives, who tend to be tougher on China and emphasize the U.S.-ROK alliance? And what does this mean for Washington?

Read More

Young people protesting in South Korea
Commentary

South Koreans Are Rethinking What China Means to Their Nation

A new study illuminates the potential effects of anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea.
South Koreans Are Rethinking What China Means to Their Nation
Yoon Seok-Youl
Commentary

What Does Korea’s 2022 Presidential Election Mean for Its Democracy?

The ongoing South Korean presidential race holds significant sociopolitical implications for the future of democracy as democratic backsliding has now become an undeniable reality in South Korea.
What Does Korea’s 2022 Presidential Election Mean for Its Democracy?
Members of the K-pop band BTS.
News

“K-Pop Stars, Too, Should Speak Out on Human Rights Issues,” Says Stanford Sociologist Gi-Wook Shin

K-pop and North Korean human rights are the subjects of two documentaries to be released this spring to mark the 20th anniversary of Stanford University’s Korea Program, reveals Professor Gi-Wook Shin.
“K-Pop Stars, Too, Should Speak Out on Human Rights Issues,” Says Stanford Sociologist Gi-Wook Shin
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Anti-Chinese sentiment surges—especially among the young—in advance of the March 9 elections.

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