New Report Previews 2024 Election Disinformation

A new report from Common Cause examines the serious and growing threat posed by disinformation in the 2024 election. “Storm Watch: Protecting Voters from Disinformation in the 2024 Election” outlines what we have seen and what we anticipate in the months leading up to November 5, and beyond. The report points to the continuing critical need to combat election disinformation at a time when artificial intelligence (AI) has become more accessible and social media platforms have drastically reduced efforts to control the expanding threat to our democracy.

“Americans expect and deserve free and fair elections without interference and intimidation, but disinformation about voting, vote tallies, and even election officials is a very real and growing threat to public faith in our elections and to our democracy,” said Common Cause Media & Democracy Program Director Ishan Mehta. “As social media platforms have irresponsibly pulled back from moderating and removing election disinformation, our work to disrupt and counteract those lies has become even more critical.”

Common Cause has been a leading voice in the fight to combat election disinformation on social media platforms since 2016 and the work continues today. That experience and the lessons learned are brought to bear in our ongoing work in the field and in the new report which is the latest in a series on the growing problem of election disinformation.

The report emphasizes that many narratives have surfaced again and again since 2016. In cycle after cycle bad actors in the disinformation space spread lies that partisan politicians often use to pass laws that make it harder for Americans to vote. Elections officials taking the time to count votes accurately, utilizing outside funding when politicians do not adequately fund election offices, and even votes not cast on Election Day are trumpeted by bad actors to be fraud. Those same bad actors intimidate and accuse election workers of cheating and attempt to label routine polling place issues and voting machine malfunctions as malicious acts.

These longstanding attacks on public faith in our elections – as well as new and evolving disinformation threats like AI – make it imperative that the election protection community continue to provide pro-voting inoculation content to educate voters and mitigate this very serious threat to our democracy.

“We have seen and combatted the evolving threat of election disinformation since the 2016 election when Russian troll farms worked to undermine Americans’ faith in our elections,” said Common Cause Senior Director of Voting & Democracy Jay Young. “We know the disinformation playbook from previous cycles, and we are ready for it, but we are also prepared to combat new threats as they arise and evolve. The irresponsible negligence of the social media companies means that ultimately Congress will need to act, but in the interim it falls to us in the election protection community to man the bulwarks of our democracy.”

The report was written by Emma Steiner a former member of the Common Cause Media & Democracy team.

To read the full report, click here.

To learn more about Common Cause’s Stopping Cyber Suppression Program, click here.

To read Common Cause’s 2023 report “Under the Microscope: Election Disinformation in 2022 And What We Learned for 2024,” click here.

To read “As a Matter of Fact,” the 2021 Common Cause report on disinformation in the 2020 election and its aftermath, click here.

To read “Trending in the Wrong Direction,” our 2021 report on social media platforms’ declining enforcement of voting disinformation, click here.