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The U.S. Is Vulnerable To An 'Election Meltdown'

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels CC0: http://bit.ly/2VDk3sE

For democracy to function properly, voters must trust the process. Tech-related blunders, administrative incompetence, voter suppression tactics, divisive rhetoric, misinformation campaigns and other foreign interference make voters increasingly question the fairness and accuracy of U.S. elections. 

At the Iowa caucuses in early February, official results were delayed due to inconsistencies between paper documentation and a new, minimally tested app which, ironically, was intended to streamline voter tallies. 

But internal inconsistencies are not new in American elections. Confusion about hanging and pregnant chads rattled voter confidence during the 2000 presidential election and ultimately, a Supreme Court vote determined the victor. 

Foreign interference played a big role in 2016 and 2018 elections -- fears which have resurfaced this cycle, as little has been done since to prevent future cyber attacks on U.S. election systems or effectively manage the ever-growing social media misinformation ecosystem.

As the November general election inches closer, what can be done to prepare for worst-case scenarios? What are the most likely threats to the United States' voting system? 

If an election breakdown does occur, how could the fallout affect Americans' faith in democracy? How could a lack of faith in election integrity undermine the democratic process?

Guest: Richard Hasen, law professor at University of California Irvine, founder of the Election Law Blog and author of "Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy" 

"The Source" is a live call-in program airing Mondays through Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. Leave a message before the program at (210) 615-8982. During the live show, call 210-614-8980, email thesource@tpr.org  or tweet @TPRSource.

*This interview originally aired on Tuesday, March 3.

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Kim Johnson is the producer for Texas Public Radio’s live, call-in show The Source. She is a Trinity University alum with bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Spanish, and a Master of Arts Degree from the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin.