Election 2020 | Research + Perspectives for the Pandemic

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The miracle and tragedy of the 2020 election
Professors Charles Stewart III, MIT, and Nathaniel Persily, Stanford

In a 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.


20 October 2020
Doomsday scenarios abound, but the next president will be decided by the voters. Not the courts, not congress

Despite how tempting it will be for President Trump’s team to use all the tools at its disposal to hold onto power, writes Charles Stewart III, in the end, the election will be decided at the ballot box.

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At-A-Glance | List of external media publications

Research-based insights, for policy and public understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic, from the MIT-SHASS academic community


15 August 2020
Which way of casting a ballot is best for you this year? Latest news and research on the 2020 election administration.

The non-partisan MIT Election Lab conducts research and collaborates with other election experts and administrators across the country to help make voting in the U.S. safe, secure, trustworthy, and effective.

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13 August 2020
The Stanford-MIT Project on a Healthy Election

This project addresses the unprecedented and ongoing threat that the Covid-19 pandemic poses to the 2020 elections, bringing academics and election administration experts together to assess and promote best practices to ensure the election can proceed with integrity, safety, and equal access.

counting votes


31 July 2020
Research predicts a wave of “lost votes” this fall, further complicating the 2020 election

A new study by MIT election expert Charles Stewart III shows that mail-in-voting has a higher rate of "lost" or uncounted votes than voting in person, further complicating the 2020 election.  "If I were advising someone at lower health risk, I would say think about early in-person voting," said Stewart. "But go early...don't wait until the last minute."

election workers


16 July 2020
The Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections project

Working together to promote integrity, safety, and equal access in the 2020 U.S. election.

portrait of Prof Charles Stewart III


3Q with Charles Stewart III: How to make the November 2020 elections safe and secure

MIT-SHASS News "Will the November 2020 election be delayed? The answer is, 'no.' There is no statutory or constitutional authority to do that. Even if the asteroids are raining on our heads and the zombies are roaming the streets on November 3, we will be voting."

voting booths


13 July 2020
Ten recommendations for conducting a healthy and trustworthy 2020 election


In Lawfare, ten recommendations from MIT election expert Charles Stewart III and Nathaniel Persily of Stanford Law. "The Covid-19 pandemic...requires an extraordinary commitment at all levels of government, and from the media, political parties, campaigns and voters. The country can meet this challenge if Americans begin to prepare immediately."


10 July 2020
Nationwide experts make 14 urgent recommendations for the 2020 elections. Learn what citizens can do to help.

This is an historic American document. "Fair Elections During a Crisis" outlines 14 urgent recommendations by a nationwide team of U.S. election experts, including MIT Professor Charles Stewart III, founder of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab.

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Connecting with voters in a time of social distancing

In Scientific American, J-PAL affiliate Donald P. Green shares research on a powerful way to get out the vote without having to canvas in person.

Voting by mail is safe, honest, and fair


28 April 2020
Let's put the vote-by-mail 'fraud' myth to rest.

In The Hill, election experts Charles Stewart III of MIT and Amber McReynolds write that claims by some politicians that voting-by-mail would lead to massive voter fraud are "simply not true. Vote fraud in the United States is exceedingly rare, with mailed ballots and otherwise."

photo of Adam Berinsky


3Q with political scientist Adam Berinsky
Impact of the pandemic on U.S. political life

"As they do in wartime "people are willing to give the government broader latitude, even to curtail civil liberties, to address this pandemic crisis. But this effect is also short-lived. People are willing to give up some civil liberties for months, but not years."

Map of the six Great Lakes States


State Election Landscapes: The Great Lakes States

For this project, the MIT Election Lab collects an enhanced set of data and descriptive materials about the administration of elections in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

wearing a face mask while voting


9 April 2020
How to hold elections during a pandemic

Recommended by the MIT Election Lab: In the National Review, Joshua Kleinfeld writes that, "The United States is the beacon of democracy around the world. Let’s show the world that no pandemic can stop our elections."

American flag and circuit board collage


Video series from the MIT Election Data and Science Lab
Conducting elections in the age of Covid-19

Videos feature election administrators, practitioners, and academic researhers describing preparations for elections that are both safe and secure during the pandemic.


6 April 2020
More voting by mail would make the 2020 election safer for our health, but can it be ready in time?

Writing in The Washington Post, MIT election expert Charles Stewart III writes why it’s not clear whether “at-home voting” can be ramped up nationwide by November.


2 April 2020
Voting by mail is the hot new idea. Is there time to make it work?

In The New York Times, MIT Professor and electoral expert Charles Stewart III discusses how the U.S. states are searching, rapidly, for ways to protect democracy’s most sacred institution.

Portrait of Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu


The Coronavirus exposed America’s authoritarian turn

In Foreign Affairs, MIT economist and Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu comments on the slow, inadequate U.S. federal response to the coronavirus threat, noting that independent expertise always dies first when democracy recedes.

portrait of Prof Charles Stewart III


30 March 2020
Can Election Day 2020 be secure — and safe for in-person voting?


In Marketwatch, Charles Stewart III, the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, and head of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, writes about logistical challenges facing election officials.

Vote by Mail, mailbox


27 March 2020
Election officials scrambling to meet pandemic voting challenges

In National Memo, MIT Professor of Political Science Charles Stewart III, analyzes the scramble for voting materials, machinery, and manpower — all the behind-the-scenes actions following the seemingly simple decisions by 10 states and territories to postpone primaries until June.