Each election cycle, state and local election officials in the United States are tasked with informing voters about what is needed to vote. As the use of social media has proliferated in elections, election officials have started using these accounts to educate constituents about the voting process and highlight changes in voting procedures. This study proposes an examination of voter education efforts through social media by these officials. Specifically, it proposes data collection on the use of Facebook and Twitter for all state and local election jurisdictions in the United States during the 2020 general election cycle, and a social media content analysis focused on voter education posts by all 50 states and a sample of local jurisdictions. I expect that larger, better resourced, socioeconomically advantaged jurisdictions, and jurisdictions where the majority of the voter population is white, are more likely to have election officials consistently using social media for voter education. Tangible products of this research will be a novel dataset of state and local election official social media usage during the 2020 general election cycle, scholarly publications, and a foundation for over-time data collection during future elections. With the ability to quickly convey information on platforms that are widely available and consistent in form from user to user, social media accounts of state and local election officials stand to be a potentially vital place for the public to seek accurate information about how to properly vote, especially during an election cycle disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Assistant Professor, Connecticut College