Will the 2020 Election Be Safe and Secure?


Prof. Charles Stewart


Daniela Rus
The 2020 presidential election is being conducted under the most trying conditions in perhaps the nation’s history. The course of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to insert uncertainty into all aspects of the election. The expansion of voting by mail represents an unprecedented acceleration of institutional change in election infrastructure. Political wrangling over mail balloting and charges of fraud threaten to undermine confidence in the electoral system and hinder a response that would optimize a response to the pandemic that would both respect election security and public health. Finally, concerns about cybersecurity that arose in the 2016 election continue, only less visibly. This talk will outline the national response to voting in the pandemic, review the degree to which progress has been made in ensuring that voting will proceed securely, safely, and with equal access, and explore vulnerabilities that remain.

Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received his PhD in political science from Stanford in 1985, whereupon he joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor. His research and teaching have centered on American politics. His many books and other academic publications have touched on legislative politics, electoral politics and reform, and American political history. Professor Stewart is currently the co-director of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, the director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab, and co-director of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. He has held many administrative and faculty leadership positions at MIT, including past service as Head of the Department of Political Science and Associate Dean of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

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