According to a 2023 report by IDEA International, election management bodies (EMBs) were the target of disinformation in 94% of attacks against election-related organizations. The next most targeted group is private companies that service EMBs – at just 2.4%. The disparity is both surprising and not surprising at all. EMBs and those who serve on those boards are in the crosshairs.

While many times the ultimate purpose of false narratives is to discredit election processes and outcomes, they typically have residual effects that are equally detrimental to elections. Mis- and disinformation can hamper modernization processes, ruin the careers of exemplary officials, and jeopardize the personal security of election officials and workers.

Faced with all-pervasive nature of false election information, it would be easy for election officials to simply surrender. But “fake news” is poor counsel. Succumbing to the fear of disinformation would stifle innovation. Elected leaders would be unable to assume their mandates, leading to failed elections and the erosion of democracy.

Election officials must not only tune disinformation out from their decision making, they must fight fake news. To help them succeed, Smartmatic has just published the second edition of its handbook, “Safeguarding Elections in the Age of Fake News.” This resource is free for election officials.

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As most election administrators know by now, sustained exposure to disinformation can have major consequences. Voters who distrust mainstream institutions are more likely to believe conspiracy theories about miscounted or misplaced votes, dishonest elections, and that legitimate journalists are lying. The more disinformation proliferates, the more pronounced the effect and the harder it becomes for honest officials to debunk. That’s why it’s critical for EMBs to follow a planned, strategic approach to fighting false information.

“Safeguarding Elections in the Age of Fake News” is full of tools & tips for election officials to mitigate disinformation and respond in a crisis. It is assembled from experts and best practices to deliver practical, actionable steps for fighting fake news. It focuses not just on debunking, but on how to assemble and prepare a communications team and to respond in the event of a disinformation crisis. Perhaps best of all, the recommendations can be adapted to any size election organization regardless of its budget or staff size.

“Safeguarding Elections in the Age of Fake News” is available as a free PDF. Just click on this link or the image below to get your copy.

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