title image

How Communications Fueled And Failed The 2020 Election

For everything that this experiment called Democracy has endured, a highly contested election during a pandemic is certainly a good stress test to the flexibility of our democratic process. While we are not here to weigh in on any of the headlines you see on a daily basis, we were fascinated by the breadth of tools deployed to bring the election, and coverage to the people. 

So how did the Communication World hold up this election? What technology helped, and what hindered the speed of the results? With every method including faxes at play, we break down the highlights and lowlights of the 2020 Election!

Yes, Melissa (Karen), I Am Voting

Let me guess, you probably received 372 text messages from Karen to William, and every name in between asking if you had voted, or asked for an absentee, received the absentee, returned your absentee ballot. Then when you actually replied YES, you were asked if you could get 3 more people to vote. Sound familiar?

Want to know who was the brainchild of this idea? Professor Melissa Michelson from Menlo College had an idea a decade ago. She wondered if text messaging could increase voter participation. Her study was a resounding success, and now we are all left to wonder if this is decreasing participation because if something can be ruined, political campaigns will find every way to make that happen. While 4 years ago we didn’t mind the text, we are now blocking more numbers than we thought possible in 2020.

Democracy And (Too Much?) Transparency Via Video Conference

Video conferencing technology has been an absolute all-star during the pandemic. When it works we don’t know what we would do without it. We enhance our productivity through our RingCentral solution powered by Zoom. Almost every court appearance was done through video conferencing, and almost every delay in those hearings was a result of that technology not working.

There is a strong chance that user error was to blame in some of those instances, however, having the right team in place to ensure the technology works is important especially when it comes to security. When the Wayne County canvassers held a meeting to proceed with certification there was a “Zoom Bomb” from the public, and they weren’t just dropping by to show their support. Making sure that your security settings & proper training for the hosts can prevent situations like this from happening.

“Stringing” Along The Voters Waiting For Results

Maybe you wondered a lot of things about Steve “Khaki” Kornacki, like does he own multiple pairs of the same pants? Absolutely he does. However, maybe you are wondering how data analysts like him get their results.

According to the AP, there are a group of people referred to as “Stringers” who have close ties to county clerks and election officials. They utilize those resources to get the information as quickly as possible and relay that back to the network or election headquarters.

Their preferred method of communication is still that good old “reach out and touch someone” phone call. As much as communication changes there is nothing like a phone call to make sure the message is delivered, verified, and certified in one call. Think if you fat-fingered one text and the damage that could cause? Think of that headline “Autocorrect Causes Election Confusion”.

Communications Evolving To Keep Up With Democracy

While you may not have put much thought into how the election actually works, it is amazing to think about how much we take our technology for granted. Think if one tower or fiber line went down on election night in a crucial county, the impact that would have on us receiving those results.

Layer in the role that Twitter played in relaying information, and you can see all of the different methods used to keep us informed. From our early days with the Pony Express to now, we should all be proud that Democracy can and will adapt to the times. If you haven’t thanked an IT person lately for what they do, maybe today is the day! They are the unsung heroes of the election, making sure all of those zoom calls, faxes, and text messages sail through for us at home!