How to Restore Trust and Peace in America

The *Other* Reason America Needs Honest Elections

Steven F. Freeman
Election Integrity
6 min readJan 11, 2021


Everyone understands one reason why honest elections are important: to be able to choose representatives we trust and respect. Without free and fair elections we could (hypothetically) wind up with unscrupulous leaders, unconcerned with the country and even less the people in it.

But election integrity is still more crucial to maintain the peace. The purpose of elections is less to anoint the winners than to assuage the losers. Fair and open elections provide an opportunity for all to have their say, even run for office, and have a fair chance to prevail. Under these conditions, those who have lost can accept that the electorate chose otherwise, that they’ll have a chance again in the next election, but that they now must abide by the outcome.

It is not enough to say that the votes are counted honestly, or even to actually count them honestly. Democracy requires that citizens can see for themselves that votes are counted honestly.

Inviting Mistrust

Reliance on vote-counting machines in the late 1960s, and especially the introduction of electronic voting in 2002, left little reason to trust official numbers. Early-voting and vote-by-mail have introduced still further opportunity for fraud and undermine the most important remaining means of verifying results.

Accordingly, trust in US election results has declined sharply. And with this, trust in nearly all American institutions. Only 1 in 10 Americans now express confidence in Congress, a number that’s difficult to reconcile with supposedly representative government.

But with the 2020 Presidential election confidence nose-dives to its demise. To cite just three credulity killers:

  • Widely expanded early voting and vote-by-mail, hastily organized, have generated thousands of instances suggesting fraud.
  • Ballot Marking Devices, yet another worse-than-worthless machine to “Help America Vote,” was foisted on the public.
  • Extensive obstruction prevented legally guaranteed observation in critical battleground states, e.g., Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
In Detroit, election officials not only kept credentialed observers out of the room where the count was conducted, they papered the windows so no one could see.

Has the Political Establishment tried to Instill Trust?

Aware that trust was unraveling or in anticipation of it, the US political establishment mounted a vigorous campaign this fall. They assured us constantly that 2020 was the most secure election in history and that all claims of security gaps — and subsequently fraud — are baseless. (You can measure political establishment centrality by “baseless” frequency.) They intensified an already unprecedented campaign to prevent transmission of “fake-news,” — that is anything that runs counter to official “facts” — by closing social media accounts, censoring search results, blocking discussion of election fraud (even historical election fraud!), etc….

This campaign has, of course, been spectacularly unsuccessful. Even ground zero acknowledges it persuaded no one. Instead, 55 million or more who might have simply questioned the results now conclude an election was stolen and that the entire political establishment is not only lying to them, but dead-set on taking away constitutional rights of speech and assembly as well as representation — a real life manifestation of the very empires that film, fiction and history have taught us must be resisted, by force if necessary.

Legacy media and tech giants have doubled and quadrupled down on a failed censorship strategy

When the fruits of this mistrust played out on Wednesday Jan 6th, and before anyone could even begin to unravel what really happened, legacy media and tech giants doubled down: The New York Times charged “The storming of Capitol Hill was organized on social media” and that “Violence on Capitol Hill Is a Day of Reckoning for Social Media.” Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube conducted a de-platforming blitzkrieg, censoring posts, removing videos, and closing accounts, including that of the President even as he was telling protestors to be peaceful and go home. Not to be left out, Apple and Amazon quadrupled down, cutting off Parler as well.

In doing so, they have converted a majority of average working people and (former) small business owners from the nation’s most fervent patriots into enemies of the state. This on top of the already deeply disillusioned and distrustful victims of past election theft and disenfranchisement, all of whom now feel not only deprived of the vote, but a voice.

All but the most brutal dictatorships rely on a citizenry’s trust in the system. Whatever your opinion on Trump and Trump supporters, whatever you think you know of what happened on Nov 3 or Jan 6, understand that there is only one way a nation so deeply disaffected can be governed — by force, and force alone.

There is an Alternative. It’s called Democracy.

Given America’s fractured state, is it possible to hold an election where all sides can accept the results? Pundit babble about unbridgeable partisan divides, would suggest not. Given, too, that leaders Zuckerberg, Dorsey, Pichai, Bezos, Sulzberger, Pelosi, McConnell, etc… have failed so abominably, it might seem an impossibility.

But in fact, reinstilling trust is remarkably easy. All it takes is to do what actual democracies (Germany, France, Canada, Ireland, most of world’s developed nations, and much of the rest as well) actually do: employ transparent processes characteristic of every legitimate election from shop steward to national leader:

1. In-person voting at the polls on Election Day. Absentee voting restricted to unavoidable absences. Establish polling places at U.S. embassies, consulates and military bases for those abroad.

Many countries stain fingers in indelible ink to prevent voting than once (Iraq, March 2010: UPI / Ali Jasim)

2. Paper ballots filled out in ink

British Columbia, Canada, ballot on a 2018 Proportional-representation referendum (Canadian Press)

3. Poll watchers representing all parties and candidates ensured a full and effective view of the entire election process

Ballot boxes at a polling station in Dnipro, Ukraine for 10–25–2020 election

4. Ballots cast in secure boxes in full view with unbroken chain-of-custody

Mexican Otomies ethnic group women cast their vote during the general elections in Solalpan village in Mexico state on July 1, 2018. (Mario Vazquez/AFP/Getty Images)

5. Hand counts of all ballots at the local polling place (not a central counting facility), immediately upon close of voting.

Ethiopia: Counting Votes After 2015 Election (euronews)

6. Tallies posted on polling place doors and online immediately upon completion of the count.

7. Election results comprise the sum of tallies from each individual polling place.

Sign the Americans United for Election Integrity petition

Election Integrity

Honest election technology and protocols are easy to implement. The politics of change, however, is a tremendous challenge. Power in the U.S. has concentrated in few hands with unlimited resources. And every US politician owes their career to the extant system.

Join us at Election Integrity

So change won’t be easy. But the U.S. was the world’s first modern democracy. It’s always been far from perfect; still, for much of its history, the U.S. has been a beacon of freedom throughout the world. With your help, it can be again. Sign the petition. Join us. Share and comment. Thank you.



Steven F. Freeman
Election Integrity

Expertise: crisis preparedness, resiliency, innovation, research methods & applications. Faculty Jefferson, UPenn+. PhD MIT. Advising industry, govnt, orgs, YOU