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Clark County Election Department worker Breanna Silas accepts ballots at the Clark County Election Department, which serves as a drive-up and walk-up election ballot drop-off point on October 13, 2020 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. (Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Political scientists say concerns about this year’s electoral process — conspiracy theories, democratic backsliding, the integrity of mail ballots — are challenging some fundamental ideas about the United States.

COVID-19 has upended many aspects of normal life, including this fall’s election season. The pandemic has cast its long shadow over the process of voting by mail. At the same time, the nation’s social and political climate — fraught with protests for racial justice, an erosion of shared democratic principles, and an increase in political conspiracy theories — has culminated in a November election like few others.

“If enough Americans stop believing that elections can represent the will of the people, our political system is truly broken.”

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