The miracle and tragedy of the 2020 election

by Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at MIT, and Nathaniel Persily, James McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford University; Co-directors of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

"The stakes could not be higher as America navigates its way forward. The open question is whether, when we look back on 2020, it will be regarded as the turning point for further strengthening the mechanics of voting, or the moment when a new generation of violent voter suppression began."

— Professors Charles Stewart III and Nathaniel Persily, directors, the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project 

In this must-read analysis, two of the Nation's leading election administration experts discuss: how, during a pandemic, U.S. election administrators organized the most secure election in American history; the "big lie" that catalyzed violence at the Capitol; and current threats to U.S. voting rights and democracy.

Read or download the paper


Suggested links

Charles Stewart III, MIT webpage

Nathaniel Persily, Stanford webpage

On the impact of the pandemic on the 2020 elections
3 Questions with Charles Stewart III

What are the odds your vote will not count?
Stewart's study quantifies how many mail-in ballots became “lost votes” in the 2016 U.S. federal election.

How many votes will be counted after election night?
Stewart study measures the “blue shift” from absentee and provisional ballots, underscores uncertainties of 2020 vote.

3 Questions: Ariel White on the impact of incarceration on voting
The political consequence of even short jail terms is disproportionately pushing African-American voters out of the electorate.


Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project

MIT Election Data and Science Lab

MIT Political Science