Photo by Jason Minick and Jeff Sevier

Over a three year period (2020-2023), Braver Angels—the largest grassroots group working to bridge the political divide—convened a group of Democrats and Republicans in equal numbers to create a report of bipartisan solutions for elections. Read the full report here.

The group agreed with three principles:

  • Voting should be easy. Cheating should be hard.
  • Every citizen should have an equal say in who will govern them; this is done through free and fair elections
  • The American government will fail if candidates refuse to accept any outcome other than victory.

After hundreds of hours of meeting, both Republicans and Democrats found 23 solutions they could agree on to strengthen trust in elections.

Fair and Equal Access to Voting

  1. Make Federal Election Day a National Holiday 
  2. To remedy concerns about Election Day access to polls and ballot boxes, state and local governments should staff up and open additional polling stations (such as at post offices in rural places), among other remedies. 
  3. In order to address the problem of long lines, provide Election Day remedies and swift responses to concerns at polling stations. 
  4. All states should implement no-excuse-needed absentee ballots. 

Verifiable Voter Identity and Eligibility 

  1. States should join a shared database of voters, such as the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), to improve the accuracy of voter rolls and eliminate dual voters. 
  2. States should require a person to show voter ID when voting. It should be an affirmative duty of state governments to provide an acceptable free voter ID (either photo or non-photo) to every eligible voter. 
  3. Government-provided voter ID should be one, but not the only, acceptable ID. The alternate ID should be a photo-verifiable ID. 

Transparency and Accountability 

  1. Training for all poll watchers should be required. Engaging poll watchers from multiple parties should be encouraged but not required. 
  2. All high schools should teach civics with the focus on constitutional rights and electoral processes. 
  3. To promote transparency and accountability, we call on the National Governors Association to form a politically independent institution to recommend best practices for state and national elections (including setting standards for auditing, voter ID, ballot structuring, polling access, etc.) 

Redistricting - Gerrymandering 

  1. States should appoint independent commissions to form voting districts. The commissions should not include currently elected officials. 
  2. Legislative districts should prioritize the “4 C’s”: compactness, competitiveness, contiguity, and compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

Confidence in Vote Counting

  1. Voting machines should be adequately tested before all elections. 
  2. All votes that are cast using machines should also have a paper record. 
  3. Once ballots have been received by governmental officials, standard statewide chain of custody procedures should be implemented and should encompass the entire process, starting at the polling place and continuing through the handling and counting of ballots. 
  4. Statewide chain of custody procedures should be implemented to protect ballots before they enter the custody of government officials. Specifically, we recommend the following three reforms:
    1. States should report their receipt of mailed ballots in a way that enables voters to determine when and whether their ballots have been received. 
    2. In jurisdictions where ballots are permitted to be collected in exchange for compensation, such compensation should not be based on the number of ballots collected. 
    3. The voter and person delivering the ballot, if they are different people, must both sign a statement on the ballot envelope granting delivery permission to the person delivering their ballot to a government collection point. 
  5. Handling and counting of ballots should be recorded on camera.

Safety and Security in the Elections Process 

  1. States should conduct a systemic review and evaluation of the processes of unsolicited mail-in ballots to prevent fraud and irregularities. 
  2. Establish cyber security industry infrastructure standards to prevent interference in elections. 
  3. Laws protecting election workers and staff from harassment and threats should be strengthened through tougher sentencing guidelines. 

Peaceful Transfer of Power 

  1. All candidates and citizens are encouraged to sign Team Democracy’s Safe and Fair Elections Pledge:

I respect the checks and balances defined in the United States Constitution and I support the electoral processes that protect the freedoms, liberties, and opportunities that are assured by our democratic institutions and norms. 

Therefore, I commit to act according to the following

  1. Elections are conducted according to the rule of law, without partisan bias. 
  2. All citizens can easily exercise their right to participate in a transparent, safe and secure electoral process. 

III. All claims of election irregularities are submitted in good faith for judgment by the judicial system, in accordance with the law, and all participants accept and support the final results. 

  1. The election process, including the transfer of power, is conducted peacefully, absent intimidation, violence, or other unlawful means. 
  2. Political parties should include a plank in their platforms that asks their supporters to take and honor the pledge. 
  3. No state legislature or elected or appointed (non-judicial) official should be able to overturn election results. In 2023, the Supreme Court affirmed this position, rejecting the “independent state legislature” theory (Moore v. Harper).

Rebuilding trust in elections requires trust in each other. It requires that we believe our fellow citizens want what’s best for the country. The fact that equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans had respectful discussions about our election systems and crafted solutions together proves that collaboration is possible, even in polarized times. Please share this report with your elected officials to be a part of the solution and rebuild our trust in our institutions and each other. 

Read the full report.

Report summary by Clare Ashcraft (Center Bias), Bridging & Bias Specialist at AllSides. Solutions come directly from the Braver Angels report.