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Elections Q&As for Lawmakers: How Do States Navigate Elections Information Overload?

Providing states with accurate and official election details can come with challenges in today's 24/7 content cycle.

By Lesley Kennedy  |  February 29, 2024

About this series: NCSL hosted legislators and legislative staff in December 2023 to answer common questions surrounding election processes and options, with an eye toward bill drafting in 2024 and beyond. Experts delved into topics ranging from absentee and mail voting and the role of poll watchers to technology and maintaining clean voter rolls. State Legislatures News broke down the questions and answers to help inform lawmakers on the intricacies of elections. Check Elections Q&As for Lawmakers often for more information.

The Expert: Tammy Patrick, CEO, Election Center, the National Association of Election Officials

As voters are bombarded with overwhelming information in today’s 24/7 content cycle, states face the challenge of providing accurate and official election details.

First, it’s essential to distinguish between process-related information and political content, Patrick says.

"You must know what is right so you can tell what is wrong," she says, emphasizing the need for voters to understand their state's systems to recognize inaccuracies.

Top Two Takeaways

  • States can provide voters with official and accurate voting process information through voter guides, sample ballots, and other official notifications that outline key details and are sent directly to voters.
  • Election officials must use clear markers of official communications, such as the United States Postal Service's Official Election Mail logo on mailings and .gov domains for email and websites, to help voters distinguish between official election information and potentially misleading third-party content. 

Patrick underscores the critical role of official voter guides and sample ballots in educating voters about registration, voting options, and navigation of the voting process. She praises states like Arizona for their proactive approach in sending out publicity pamphlets and statements from candidates to help voters make informed choices.

"It's not leaving it up to a third-party group,” she says. “It is official voter information from the election.”

Distinguishing official election materials is also crucial.

"The United States Postal Service has the Official Mail Logo that is only available for election officials to put on their materials," Patrick notes, advocating for its use to prevent confusion among voters.

Addressing challenges in the digital realm, Patrick calls for the adoption of .gov websites and emails among election officials, reinforcing their credibility and security. She also points to the Voting Information Project, which provides official polling place data to various platforms, as a resource.

And, Patrick adds, election officials in many places are addressing the need for language access in communities targeted by misinformation campaigns. 

“Ultimately,” she says, “it’s important that election officials take a multifaceted approach to ensure that voters receive accurate and official information to make informed choices and successfully navigate an increasingly complex process.”

Lesley Kennedy is NCSL’s director of publishing and digital content.

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