Skip to content

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Report: Party control over election certification poses risks to the future of elections

Brett Deering/Getty Images

Griffiths is the national editor of Independent Voter News, where a version of this story first appeared.

Partisan machinations have increasingly shaken the faith in the integrity of the election process. Election deniers were just the start, but things have escalated to the point where some election administrators – loyal to their party – have refused to certify election results for political reasons.

New analysis from the Election Reformers Network warns of the growing danger and chaos that will arise as a result of parties having too much control over who certifies elections – and how they do it – as polarization spirals out of control.

“Already, we’re seeing efforts by U.S. partisans to exploit certification,” writes ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson. “In 2020, Republican party representatives in Wayne County, the largest in Michigan, refused for several hours to certify results of the presidential election, briefly throwing the contest in a key swing state into turmoil. One of their counterparts at the state level board — the same panel that last week drew charges of political bias when it rejected, on party lines, a proposed ballot measure to protect reproductive rights — threatened to do likewise."

In 2022, there were incidents in New Mexico and Pennsylvania where local election boards refused to certify election results without cause or evidence of fraud or impropriety. Partisan lawmakers in Arizona hired a private firm with no experience to conduct a statewide election audit, despite the lack of evidence that one was needed.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Voters should brace themselves for more disruptions in November from the very people tasked with overseeing elections – a job that voters expect to be performed in an unbiased manner. But, the administration and certification of elections cannot be truly unbiased when the teams control who referees the game.

The risk is ever-present, and it is not isolated to only a handful of states.

In its analysis, ERN found that 39 states give exclusive control over election certification to partisan-controlled boards or partisan officials. And, every state except for Hawaii involves nominated, appointed or elected partisan figures in some manner in the certification process

These are people who have signed on to a team and have pledged their support for that team. They have an invested interest in “their side” winning.

Washington's independent secretary of state candidate, Julie Anderson, noted in an interview back in June that it is “very difficult for voters to believe that once you walk into” an election administration role “you shed those team obligations.”

In her own state she believes that Republican Kim Wyman – who stepped down earlier this year – may be the last person voters across the board fully trust to be a member of a party and oversee elections. Party leaders will no doubt scoff at the claim, but it may carry some weight by the fact that Anderson advanced to the general election over other major party candidates in a nonpartisan primary on Aug. 2.

ERN conducted a parallel analysis to see if peer democracies around the world allow parties to have the same level of control and influence on election certification. What the group found was that the United States is nearly unique.

Nearly all of the 12 democratic systems examined limited political parties to observing the certification process and bringing challenges to court. The finalization of elections is also conducted by the same – and in most cases nonpartisan – professionals who run the elections.

It is also rare in these countries that someone running in an election has any role in election administration or certification. The same cannot be said in the U.S., where those tasked with overseeing elections can and will run for a different or higher office while in their position.

Johnson believes that it is imperative that voters understand how election certification in their state works. Many people don’t know that several states have laws that make it clear that the certification process is not the venue to challenge election results.

The rightful venues are the courts, which have increasingly needed to step in to stop efforts to hold the certification process hostage for unfounded and political reasons. The lack of public knowledge has allowed some partisan officials to seek out loopholes and ambiguities in state law to insert their own will in election certification.

In the long term, Johnson says the United States should replicate what other democratic systems are doing. He believes responsibility for election certification should be shifted to election professionals selected in a nonpartisan manner.

“Where boards are involved, their membership should be modified to emphasize impartiality rather than party representation, for example by including retired election officials or judges” he writes. "Parties can fully protect their interests through the roles accorded them in law: observing all processes and taking evidenced-backed concerns to court.”

Read More

USAID flag outside a building
J. David Ake/Getty Images

Project 2025: U.S. Agency for International Development

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's cross partisan analysis of Project 2025 relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025.

South African divestment is the most famous, and likely most successful, global pressure campaign in recent memory. The enemy was the minority white elites who conceived, implemented and perpetuated apartheid, the incomprehensibly malevolent scheme of legally sanctioned racial separation. These racists got their just desserts when company after company, government after government, and individual after individual pulled their resources. Eventually, the South African economy strained, leaders were toppled and the country began its long march toward moral reclamation.

Keep ReadingShow less
Wegovy box
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

How Congress can quickly make Ozempic, Wegovy affordable

Pearl, the author of “ChatGPT, MD,” teaches at both the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is a former CEO of The Permanente Medical Group.

A whopping one in eight U.S. adults have taken GLP-1 drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic for weight loss and related conditions. Their popularity and efficacy have sparked a prescription-writing frenzy in recent years, leaving both medications on the Food and Drug Administration's drug shortage list since May 2023.

Keep ReadingShow less
Man climbing a set of exterior steps

The author, Miliyon Ethiopis, following a court’s decision to grant his asylum request on June 18.

U.S. immigration court ruling on statelessness could have wide impact

Ethiopis is a co-founder of United Stateless, a national organization led by stateless people.

I feel like I have been born again, after a U.S. immigration court made a remarkable ruling in my “statelessness” case in June. I hope that my case will have significant, broader implications for other stateless people in America.

Being stateless means no country will claim you as a citizen. We don't belong anywhere. Stateless people are military veterans. We are Harvard graduates. We are Holocaust survivors. There are millions of stateless people around the world, and 200,000 such people in the United States.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bar graph of shopping carts
Andriy Onufriyenko/Getty Images

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?

This fact brief was originally published by Wisconsin Watch. Read the original here. Fact briefs are published by newsrooms in the Gigafact network, and republished by The Fulcrum. Visit Gigafact to learn more.

Have prices increased 40 percent to 50 percent since Trump left office?


Cumulative inflation since former President Donald Trump left office in January 2021 through May 2024 was 20.1 percent according to data from the Federal Reserve’s Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, or CPI-U.

Trump told a crowd on June 18 in Racine, Wis., that "real inflation" is more than twice that.

Keep ReadingShow less
Girl in a Christian school

Half the students benefiting from ESAs never attended public school — they were always privately educated.

Jonathan Kirn

Project 2025: Education savings accounts

Rogers is the “data wrangler” at BillTrack50. He previously worked on policy in several government departments.

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's cross partisan analysis of Project 2025 relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025.

The “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise," the Heritage Foundation’s guide for a second Trump administration is more commonly known as Project 2025. One section outlines an ambitious plan to expand education savings accounts, which allow parents to decide how to spend some of the public money allocated to their children’s education, across the United States. It recommends creating a model for ESAs by allowing their use by students in active-duty military families, those studying in D.C., and students attending schools on tribal lands.

Keep ReadingShow less