Richard L. Hasen

Oct 21, 2020

Election Meltdown

Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy

Yale University Press 2020

purchase at As the 2020 presidential campaign begins to take shape, there is widespread distrust of the fairness and accuracy of American elections. In Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy (Yale UP, 2020), Richard L. Hasen uses riveting stories illustrating four factors increasing the mistrust. Voter suppression has escalated as a Republican tool aimed to depress turnout of likely Democratic voters, fueling suspicion. Pockets of incompetence in election administration, often in large cities controlled by Democrats, have created an opening to claims of unfairness. Old‑fashioned and new‑fangled dirty tricks, including foreign and domestic misinformation campaigns via social media, threaten electoral integrity. Inflammatory rhetoric about “stolen” elections supercharges distrust among hardcore partisans. Taking into account how each of these threats has manifested in recent years—most notably in the 2016 and 2018 elections—Hasen offers concrete steps that need to be taken to restore trust in American elections before the democratic process is completely undermined. This is an indispensable analysis, from the nation’s leading election-law expert, of the key threats to the 2020 American presidential election. Professor Hasen’s election law blog can be found here.
Arya Hariharan is a lawyer in politics. She spends much of her time working on congressional investigations and addressing challenges to the rule of law. You can reach her at or Twitter.

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