Statement of Concern

The Threats to American Democracy and the Need for National Voting and Election Administration Standards
Statement
June 1, 2021

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy who have watched the recent deterioration of U.S. elections and liberal democracy with growing alarm. Specifically, we have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election. Collectively, these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections. Hence, our entire democracy is now at risk.

When democracy breaks down, it typically takes many years, often decades, to reverse the downward spiral. In the process, violence and corruption typically flourish, and talent and wealth flee to more stable countries, undermining national prosperity. It is not just our venerated institutions and norms that are at risk—it is our future national standing, strength, and ability to compete globally.

Statutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration, with Republican-controlled legislatures giving themselves the power to override electoral outcomes on unproven allegations should Democrats win more votes. They are seeking to restrict access to the ballot, the most basic principle underlying the right of all adult American citizens to participate in our democracy. They are also putting in place criminal sentences and fines meant to intimidate and scare away poll workers and nonpartisan administrators. State legislatures have advanced initiatives that curtail voting methods now preferred by Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as early voting and mail voting. Republican lawmakers have openly talked about ensuring the “purity” and “quality” of the vote, echoing arguments widely used across the Jim Crow South as reasons for restricting the Black vote.

State legislators supporting these changes have cited the urgency of “electoral integrity” and the need to ensure that elections are secure and free of fraud. But by multiple expert judgments, the 2020 election was extremely secure and free of fraud. The reason that Republican voters have concerns is because many Republican officials, led by former President Donald Trump, have manufactured false claims of fraud, claims that have been repeatedly rejected by courts of law, and which Trump’s own lawyers have acknowledged were mere speculation when they testified about them before judges.

In future elections, these laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislatures or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election. Further, these laws could entrench extended minority rule, violating the basic and longstanding democratic principle that parties that get the most votes should win elections.

Democracy rests on certain elemental institutional and normative conditions. Elections must be neutrally and fairly administered. They must be free of manipulation. Every citizen who is qualified must have an equal right to vote, unhindered by obstruction. And when they lose elections, political parties and their candidates and supporters must be willing to accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. The refusal of prominent Republicans to accept the outcome of the 2020 election, and the anti-democratic laws adopted (or approaching adoption) in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Montana and Texas—and under serious consideration in other Republican-controlled states—violate these principles. More profoundly, these actions call into question whether the United States will remain a democracy. As scholars of democracy, we condemn these actions in the strongest possible terms as a betrayal of our precious democratic heritage.

The most effective remedy for these anti-democratic laws at the state level is federal action to protect equal access of all citizens to the ballot and to guarantee free and fair elections. Just as it ultimately took federal voting rights law to put an end to state-led voter suppression laws throughout the South, so federal law must once again ensure that American citizens’ voting rights do not depend on which party or faction happens to be dominant in their state legislature, and that votes are cast and counted equally, regardless of the state or jurisdiction in which a citizen happens to live. This is widely recognized as a fundamental principle of electoral integrity in democracies around the world.

A new voting rights law (such as that proposed in the John Lewis Voting Rights Act) is essential but alone is not enough. True electoral integrity demands a comprehensive set of national standards that ensure the sanctity and independence of election administration, guarantee that all voters can freely exercise their right to vote, prevent partisan gerrymandering from giving dominant parties in the states an unfair advantage in the process of drawing congressional districts, and regulate ethics and money in politics.

It is always far better for major democracy reforms to be bipartisan, to give change the broadest possible legitimacy. However, in the current hyper-polarized political context such broad bipartisan support is sadly lacking. Elected Republican leaders have had numerous opportunities to repudiate Trump and his “Stop the Steal” crusade, which led to the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Each time, they have sidestepped the truth and enabled the lie to spread.

We urge members of Congress to do whatever is necessary—including suspending the filibuster—in order to pass national voting and election administration standards that both guarantee the vote to all Americans equally, and prevent state legislatures from manipulating the rules in order to manufacture the result they want. Our democracy is fundamentally at stake. History will judge what we do at this moment.

Signatures are still being added. This list was last updated on 6/15/21 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

John Aldrich
Professor of Political Science
Duke University

Robert Alexander
Professor of Political Science
Ohio Northern University

Barry Ames
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
University of Pittsburgh

Will Atkins
Instructor of Political Science
United States Air Force Academy

Deborah Avant
Professor of International Studies
University of Denver

Julia Azari
Associate Professor of Political Science
Marquette University

Larry M. Bartels
Professor of Political Science
Vanderbilt University

Robert V. Bartlett
Professor of the Liberal Arts
University of Vermont

John Baughman
Associate Professor of Politics
Bates College

Frank R. Baumgartner
Professor of Political Science
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Christopher Beem
Managing Director, McCourtney Institute for Democracy
Penn State University

Caroline Beer
Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Jonathan Bendor
Professor of Political Economy
Stanford University

Michael Berkman
Professor of Political Science
Penn State University

Sheri Berman
Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Benjamin Bishin
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Riverside

Robert Blair
Assistant Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs
Brown University

Steffen Blings
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Utah State University

Henry E. Brady
Dean, Goldman School of Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley

Alejandro Trelles
Assistant Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Rogers Brubaker
Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles

Eileen Burgin
Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

John M. Carey
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Ryan E. Carlin
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Daniel Carpenter
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Michael Chwe
Professor and Chair, Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

David B. Cohen
Professor of Political Science
University of Akron

Joshua Cohen
Senior Fellow in Law, Philosophy, and Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Mark Copelovitch
Professor of Political Science & Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Michael Coppedge
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Katherine Cramer
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Larry Diamond
Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute
Stanford University

Chris J. Dolan
Professor of Political Science
Lebanon Valley College

Alan Dowty
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Daniel W. Drezner
Professor of International Politics
Tufts University

Lee Drutman
Senior Fellow
New America

Rachel Epstein
Professor of International Studies
University of Denver

Christina Ewig
Professor of Public Affairs
University of Minnesota

David Faris
Associate Professor of Political Science
Roosevelt University

John Ferejohn
Professor of Law and Politics
New York University School of Law

Henry Farrell
Professor of International Affairs
Johns Hopkins University

Christina Fattore
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Christopher M. Federico
Professor of Political Science and Psychology
University of Minnesota

Morris P. Fiorina
Professor of Political Science and Senior Fellow
Hoover Institution
Stanford University

Frank Fischer
Professor Emeritus of Politics and Global Affairs
Rutgers University

M. Steven Fish
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

Dana R. Fisher
Professor of Sociology
University of Maryland

Joel L. Fleishman
Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies
Duke University

Michael D. Floyd
Professor Emeritus, Cumberland School of Law
Samford University

Luis Fraga
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

William W. Franko
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Robert J. Franzese, Jr.
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Amy Fried
Professor of Political Science
University of Maine

Francis Fukuyama
Senior Fellow
Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
Stanford University

Archon Fung
Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government
Harvard University

Daniel J. Galvin
Associate Professor of Political Science
Northwestern University

Laura Gamboa
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Utah

Michael A. Genovese
President, Global Policy Institute
Loyola Marymount university

Anthony “Jack” Gierzynski
Professor and Chair of Political Science
University of Vermont

Martin Gilens
Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Social Welfare
University of California, Los Angeles

Kristin Goss
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke University

Jessica Gottlieb
Associate Professor of Government & Public Service
Texas A&M University

Virginia Gray
Professor of Political Science Emeritus
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Jill S. Greenlee
Associate Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Jacob M. Grumbach
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Washington

Anna Grzymala-Busse
Professor of International Studies
Stanford University

Deborah Lynn Guber
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Jacob Hacker
Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Hahrie Han
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Jonathan Hartlyn
Professor of Political Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas J. Hayes
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Connecticut

Gretchen Helmke
Professor of Political Science
University of Rochester

Jeffrey R. Henig
Professor of Political Science & Education
Columbia University

Jeffrey Herf
Professor of History
University of Maryland, College Park

Kenneth S. Hicks
Professor of Political Science
Rogers State University

Lisa Hilbink
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Jennifer Hochschild
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Amanda Hollis-Brusky
Associate Professor of Politics
Pomona College

Lisa M. Holmes
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Daniel Hopkins
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Matthew B. Incantalupo
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Yeshiva University

Matt Jacobsmeier
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Gary C. Jacobson
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
University of California, San Diego

Hakeem Jefferson
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Bruce W. Jentleson
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Duke University

Theodore R. Johnson
Senior Fellow & Director, Fellows Program
Brennan Center for Justice

David A. Jones
Professor of Political Science
James Madison University

Richard Joseph
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Northwestern University

Nathan P. Kalmoe
Associate Professor of Political Communication
Louisiana State University

Terry Lynn Karl
Professor Emeritus of Latin American Studies and Political Science
Stanford University

Nancy Kassop
Professor of Political Science and International Relations
State University of New York at New Paltz

Thomas M. Keck
Professor of Political Science
Syracuse University

Alex Keena
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Virginia Commonwealth University

R. Daniel Kelemen
Professor of Political Science and Law
Rutgers University

Nathan J. Kelly
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Alexander Keyssar
Professor of History and Social Policy
Harvard University

Helen M. Kinsella
Associate Professor of Political Science & Law
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Eric Kramon
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
George Washington University

Ron Krebs
Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Katherine Krimmel
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Daniel Kryder
Associate Professor of Politics
Brandeis University

Didi Kuo
Senior Research Scholar, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law
Stanford University

Matt Lacombe
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Barnard College, Columbia University

Timothy LaPira
Professor of Political Science
James Madison University

Michael Latner
Senior Fellow
Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy

Anna O. Law
Associate Professor of Political Science
CUNY Brooklyn College

Adrienne LeBas
Associate Professor of Government
American University

Yphtach Lelkes
Assistant Professor, Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania

Margaret Levi
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Peter Levine
Professor, Tisch College
Tufts University

Steve Levitsky
Professor of Government
Harvard University

Robert Lieberman
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Paul C. Light
Professor of Public Service
New York University

Scott Mainwaring
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Michael J. Malbin
Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Emeritus
University at Albany, SUNY

Thomas E. Mann
Senior Fellow, Governance Studies
Brookings Institution

Jane Mansbridge
Professor Emerita of Political Leadership and Democratic Values
Harvard University

Andrei S. Markovits
Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Michigan

Gregory Markus
Professor Emeritus, Political Science
University of Michigan

Renée Marlin-Bennett
Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Seth Masket
Professor of Political Science
University of Denver

Lilliana H. Mason
Associate Research Professor, Department of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Corrine M. McConnaughy
Research Scholar and Lecturer, Department of Politics
Princeton University

Jennifer McCoy
Professor of Political Science
Georgia State University

Suzanne Mettler
Professor of American Institutions, Department of Government
Cornell University

Robert Mickey
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Michael Minta
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Terry Moe
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Jana Morgan
Professor of Political Science
University of Tennessee

Mason Moseley
Associate Professor of Political Science
West Virginia University

Russell Muirhead
Professor of Democracy
Dartmouth College

Diana Mutz
Professor of Political Science and Communication
University of Pennsylvania

C. Daniel Myers
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

Pippa Norris
Professor of Political Science
Harvard University

Anne Norton
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Julie Novkov
Professor of Political Science
University at Albany, SUNY

Brendan Nyhan
Professor of Government
Dartmouth College

Angela X. Ocampo
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Norm Ornstein
Emeritus Scholar
American Enterprise Institute

Eric W. Orts
Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics
University of Pennsylvania

Terrence M. O’Sullivan
Associate Professor of Security Studies
University of New Hampshire

Benjamin I. Page
Professor of Decision Making
Northwestern University

Joseph M. Parent
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Josh Pasek
Associate Professor of Communication & Media and Political Science
University of Michigan

Tom Pepinsky
Professor, Department of Government
Cornell University

Anibal Perez-Linan
Professor of Political Science and Global Affairs
University of Notre Dame

Dirk Philipsen
Associate Research Professor of Economic History
Duke University

Paul Pierson
Professor of Political Science
University of California, Berkeley

William Plater
Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs, Philanthropy, and English
Indiana University

Brian M. Pollins
Associate Professor Emeritus of Political Science
The Ohio State University

Ethan Porter
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
George Washington University

David Prindle
Professor of Government
University of Texas at Austin

Robert D. Putnam
Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University

Miles S. Rapoport
Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy
Harvard University

Nils Ringe
Professor of Political Science
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Kenneth Roberts
Professor of Government
Cornell University

Amanda Lea Robinson
Associate Professor of Political Science
Ohio State University

Bert A. Rockman
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Purdue University

Deondra Rose
Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and History
Duke University

Nancy L. Rosenblum
Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government Emerita
Harvard University

Stella M. Rouse
Associate Professor, Department of Government and Politics
University of Maryland

Larry J. Sabato
University Professor of Politics
University of Virginia

Sara Sadhwani
Assistant Professor of Politics
Pomona College

Virginia Sapiro
Professor of Political Science
Boston University

Anoop Sarbahi
Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of Minnesota

David Schanzer
Professor of the Practice of Public Policy
Duke University

Kim L. Scheppele
Professor of Sociology and International Affairs
Princeton University

Daniel Schlozman
Associate Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University

Kay L. Schlozman
Professor of Political Science
Boston College

Philippe C. Schmitter
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
European University Institute

Cathy Lisa Schneider
Professor, School of International Service
American University

Holli A. Semetko
Professor of Political Science
Emory University

Shauna Lani Shames
Associate Professor in Political Science
Rutgers University, Camden

Gisela Sin
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Illinois

Dan Slater
Professor of Political Science
University of Michigan

Anne-Marie Slaughter
Professor Emerita of Politics and International Relations
Princeton University

Charles Anthony Smith
Professor of Political Science and Law
University of California, Irvine

Rogers M. Smith
Professor of Political Science
University of Pennsylvania

Paul M. Sniderman
Professor of Political Science
Stanford University

Alan D. Solomont
Dean, Tisch College
Tufts University

Thomas A. Spragens, Jr.
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Duke University

Leonard Steinhorn
Professor of Communication
American University

Susan Stokes
Professor of Political Science
University of Chicago

Robert Pepperman Taylor
Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Alexander George Theodoridis
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chloe Thurston
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Northwestern University

Laurence H. Tribe
Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law
Harvard Law School

Jeffrey K. Tulis
Professor of Government
The University of Texas at Austin

Steven Twing
Professor of Political Science
Frostburg State University

Antonio Ugues Jr.
Associate Professor of Political Science
St. Mary's College of Maryland

Stephen E. Van Holde
Professor of Political Science and International Studies
Kenyon College

Michael W. Wagner
Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Wisconsin, Madison

Omar Wasow
Assistant Professor, Department of Politics
Princeton University

Christopher Witko
Professor of Public Policy and Political Science
Pennsylvania State University

Christina Wolbrecht
Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Deborah J. Yashar
Professor of Politics & International Affairs
Princeton University

Alex Zakaras
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Vermont

Daniel Ziblatt
Professor of Government
Harvard University

*Institutions and titles are listed for identification purposes only.