Election Threat Index Criteria

The Election Threat Index is launching with an Arizona state page tracking local and state level election deniers. Public Wise will be releasing state pages for election deniers in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada in 2024. 

How We Define Election Deniers: 

The elected and appointed election administration officials identified in the Election Threat Index are carefully vetted by the Public Wise team. We monitor these officials’ policy positions, legislation they have sponsored, letters they have signed on to, and support for voter suppression in service of the Big Lie. To qualify as an election denier and be included in the Election Threat Index, all individuals must meet carefully selected criteria from the lists below. We have divided the criteria into two lists. The first includes positions and actions that clearly deny the outcome of the 2020 or 2022 elections. The second list are supplementary actions that imply denial of election results but do not stand on their own as clear denial. In addition to these criteria, we also track legislative actions that have the potential to impact future elections by changing how votes are cast, counted, and how the outcomes of elections are controlled. 

Methodology: 

To be classified an election denier, an election administration official must meet a combination of criteria from the lists below. If an official meets at least one criteria from list 1, they are classified an election denier. If they don’t meet any criteria from list 1, then they must meet a combination of criteria from list 2.

1 – Actions and positions that actively denied or attempted to overturn the results of an election:  

  • Outright denial of the results of the 2020 or 2022 election through actions or public posts or statements
  • Supported attempts at “fraudits,” a fraudulent audit request of the 2020 presidential election results grounded in misinformation and conspiracy theories,  including the Arizona hand ballot recounts
  • Signed on to a letter to Former U.S. Vice President Pence encouraging him to halt certification of the 2020 presidential election. 
  • Co-sponsored a legislative resolution to decertify Arizona’s 2020 Presidential Electors.
  • Signed on to a letter calling for a National Election Audit.

2 – Actions and positions that attempt to undermine the results of an  election: 

  • Participated in, coordinated, funded, attended, or helped others participate in the January 6th insurrection
  • Actions or public posts or statements that imply denial of the results of the 2020 or 2022 elections
  • Perpetuated or adhered to claims denying the validity of election results beginning with 2020’s Big Lie 
  • Endorsed candidates who participated in the January 6th insurrection

How we measure potential impact confirmed election deniers might have on the administration of future elections:

  • Supported policies, rules changes, or legislation that changes how votes are cast:
    • Abolishing or limiting absentee & early voting
  • Supported policies, rules changes, or legislation that changes how votes are counted
    • Restrict the time period during which absentee votes can be counted
    • Ban the use of voting machines
  • Supported policies, rules changes, or legislations that changes the control of election results:
    • Delay state certification of election results
    • Refuse to certify election results

These criteria were influenced by the Brookings Institution’s piece on democracy on the ballot and policy priorities for election denier elected officials.