The Best Way to Address Election Disinformation

October 16, 2022

Citizen Data studied the effects of voter education in two key states to identify best practices for approaching the problem.

Data for Democracy

The election is less than a month away, and ballots have started to drop. With it all, we inevitably see the rise of election disinformation.

To help election officials thwart misinformation, we assessed communications approaches in Arizona and Georgia and measured impacts on voter confidence in the system. In summary, we’ve found that explicit efforts to share more about how ballots are processed, counted, and reported helps to build more trust among voters.

1. Arizona: Prebunking Vs. Debunking

In Arizona, we looked at the effects of “prebunking” misinformation, meaning to get ahead of potential misinformation before it’s spread vs. “debunking,” which is a more direct fact-check.

Arizona Disinformation Experiment Overview

Key findings: In Arizona, a direct “debunking” or fact check shared by a highly-trusted authority figure has been proven effective in increasing confidence in the election process and outcomes.

Among Arizona voters, a “pre-bunk” approach — sharing factual information about the voting process without context — led to blowback among those who believe election disinformation. 

The blowback may be a sign that voters with high levels of distrust in institutions and experts view fact-sharing out of context as patronizing or condescending.

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Download The Best Way to Address Election Disinformation

The results of our Georgia experiments, and recommendations for combating election disinformation, can be found in ElectProtect’s Democracy Research Library. Learn more about the platform here, and schedule your demo today.

Promoting the People Who Work Elections

As Americans head to the polls and submit their ballots, Citizen Data looked into how people perceive the people who make our elections function. Messaging centered on election workers increased positive feelings in such areas as the intentions of election workers, election security, and elections being run fairly.