According to a recent University of Washington Center for an Informed Public poll, which surveyed voters in Washington state, 71% of respondents stated they trust the state’s vote-by-mail system. However, 23% of respondents said their level of trust has decreased since the 2020 General Election. This is especially true among Latino and conservative voters.
This decrease in voter trust likely correlates with the increase in election misinformation. Election misinformation comes in many forms, including—but not limited to—opinion essays disguised as news reports, falsified versions of stories from seemingly credible sources, anonymous social media posts, conspiracy theories portrayed as fact, and accusations of voter fraud that lack credible evidence. The goal of these misinformation campaigns is to confuse voters and undermine people’s trust and confidence in elections.
Misinformation works best when people do not know how to recognize it.
Using the tips below, you can identify and avoid misinformation and help your friends and family do the same. As a voter, you deserve to know the facts—and know how and where to find them.
How can you tell if you are looking at misinformation?
Check your reaction
News articles or posts with attention-grabbing headlines and usually intend to evoke an emotional reaction more than relay facts. If you find yourself becoming upset about something you are reading or watching, take these next steps.
Check the sources
Trustworthy media outlets will indicate where they get their information. Reliable sources can include government officials, researchers, reputable thought leaders, and acknowledged experts. If you cannot find sources, or if the sources are unreliable, you should question whether the information may be biased or even untrue.
Check other news providers
If you read an article or post or watch a video you think may be inaccurate, look elsewhere. For example, check reliably nonpartisan news sites such as the Associated Press or Reuters.
Check the author
Do a quick online search for the author of or person quoted in the story. Think about whether they have any reason to mislead you.
Are they an expert in their field? Are they credible? Do they have any inherent biases? Are they even a real person?
Finally, ask yourself: Is this information being paid for by a company, politician, advocacy organization, or other source with a strong bias? Is there evidence to support the claims they make? Do you feel you have enough information to fully understand the issue, or should you learn more?
Where can you go to learn more?
The Office of the Secretary of State’s elections website and its FAQ page offer comprehensive and accurate election information. Contact your local county elections office to learn more about elections and voting where you live. Also, follow #TrustedInfo2022 on Twitter. No matter where you go for the most accurate and reliable election information, remember that your vote matters. That’s why “misinformants” are working hard to convince you to vote their way, or not vote at all.