As the 2020 presidential election season approaches, questions about our elections’ integrity are moving to the forefront of our national consciousness. The Georgetown Law Technology Review decided to confront this topic directly: On February 7, 2020, we hosted a symposium titled Election Integrity in the Networked Information Era. By engaging with thought leaders from across multiple disciplines, we hoped to explore how technological development has changed our electoral process and how we can maintain electoral integrity in the modern era.

Those technological developments have been extensive. Social media and the Internet have changed how voters receive and process information, and those same networks have also created new opportunities for voter suppression. Even our election infrastructure has changed. Technology is often held up as a way to increase democratic participation and voter turnout, but those benefits can only come to fruition if we understand and mitigate new technologies’ limitations.

We organized the symposium around four different panels, each featuring experts from a variety of disciplines. The majority of those experts contributed to this issue, and you can find those works both in our full issue on throughout these web pages.

The following speakers were present for each panel, with the first speaker in each column serving as the moderator for the panel:

 

Networked Media Ecologies & Public Discourse

 

Voter Suppression & Voter Turnout

 

Digital Technologies & Voting

 

New Challenges in Election Oversight & Regulation

 

Erin Carroll

 

Julie Cohen

 

Matt Blaze

 

Alexandra Givens

 

Mike Ananny

 

Cara Brumfield

 

Andrew Appel

 

Marc Lawrence-Apfelbaum

 

Leticia Bode

 

Jessica Huseman

 

Barbara Simons

 

Patrick Day

 

Whitney Phillips

 

Kathryn Peters

 

Philip Stark

 

The Honorable Karen Kornbluh

 

Lam Vo

 

Nick Monaco

 

Kim Zetter

 

The Honorable Ellen Weintraub

 

This issue is organized by panel, and the introduction to each section includes a brief discussion of the panel and the goals behind it.

Additionally, we held a lunchtime poster presentation session to highlight the work that a number of Georgetown students have recently done in this area. Those students and their subjects included:

 

Chris Conrad  Natalie Gideon  Lauren Renaud Kendall Spencer & Rachel Wehr
The Pernicious Problem of Platform Enabled Voter Intimidation Political Astroturfing on Social Media: An Analysis of Potential Regulatory Solutions Will You Believe it When You See It?: How and Why the Press Should Prepare for Deepfakes

 

Holding Voter Machine Vendors Accountable: How State Attorneys General Can Help Secure America’s Elections

 

We are also proud to publish Chris Conrad’s Student Note, from which his presentation was derived, and to say that we published Lauren Renaud’s work, which won our first annual writing contest, in Issue 4.1. We would like to extend a special thank you to all of our student presenters.

We concluded the symposium with a panel addressing election regulations, and, even though we do not think that we found any definite solutions, we do think that we have started a productive conversation about how to address the technological realities of our contemporary elections. We hope that you enjoy that conversation and take the views that we have collected here into consideration. Only through continued effort can we address the problems facing elections in the networked information era.

Finally, this symposium issue also includes a series of Technology Explainers. These explainers are written to provide lawyers with an understanding of how various technologies work—they are explanations of technical concepts for the legally inclined. In addition to pieces by several of our Staff members, we are also excited to include a Technology Explainer by an outside author this semester. Gabriel Nicholas, a Research Fellow at the New York University School of Law Information Law Institute and the New York University Center for Cybersecurity, has written a piece titled Explaining Algorithmic Decisions, and we are grateful for his contribution

Thank you for reading.

 

Sincerely,

The Editorial Board

Spring 2020

Election Integrity in the Networked Information Era Symposium: GLTR Volume 4, Issue 2