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The IMI Journal—Democracy Disaster Averted, Big Challenges Ahead

December 4, 2020

We averted an electoral disaster in 2020. Our Voting Booth project played a key behind-the-scenes role in alerting voting rights advocates and election officials to address weaknesses and flaws in the voting system before ballots were cast. And we educated the public about the best ways to make sure their votes were counted.

While right-wing media spread conspiracy theories and corporate media typically hyped the horse race of politics, IMI’s Voting Booth focused on making this election work. We performed the essential role of a free press in a free and democratic society.

You get our emails, read the journalism we produce, hear from our fellows and correspondents, and visit our website to see what we’re up to—I want to give you a quick update.

Our society has measurably benefited from the real change that IMI’s independent journalism has produced. I am sure you have high standards and have some sense of the fractured media environment and the challenging context for independent media to make a real impact. IMI is breaking through the noise to serve a sophisticated audience of readers and expert networks focused on solving real-world problems in real time. For example:

  • IMI’s Voting Booth project is widely credited with educating leaders in the Democratic Party about the pitfalls of unproven digital technologies in caucuses and primaries at the moment when many states were on the verge of adopting them. The disasters we saw in Iowa and Nevada could have plagued the entire nomination process, damaging its credibility.
  • When the general election process started, our reports on how voters should plan during COVID-19 were widely adopted by many of America’s largest voting organizations. Voting Booth identified a critical error—possibly intentional—in Wisconsin’s mail-in voting process that could have prevented 500,000 of its voters from receiving their mail-in ballots. We identified the key people who needed to be alerted to this with time to spare and helped solve the problem in a state decided by 20,000 votes.
  • Voting Booth’s chief correspondent has reported from Georgia since the November 3 election on the mayhem involved, revealing the machinations of Republican factions to hijack the vote count process, and the untapped pools of voters who could make a historic difference in the Senate.

In 2021, Voting Booth is going to have to confront and fact-check a burgeoning movement on the right that will say and believe anything. As far as I can tell, the number of voting and elections-focused media projects that have credibility, audience, and trust among people who make really important decisions can be counted on one hand. So, democracy disaster averted, and big challenges ahead. Billions of dollars go to political campaigns, but not enough goes to the few journalists who protect our voting and elections.

I hope I have turned your ear a bit. Your dollars make this country a better place to live in, which is what you and I and all the talented, dedicated people at IMI want. They will be used to produce media that changes the world, educates, and inspires.

So please do the math—and I hope what it adds up to is that you’ll join us, and encourage us with your generous support.

Thanks from Jan Ritch-Frel and the rest of the IMI team.

P.S.: We really need you with us! Check out our latest stories below:

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Agitated Trump Supporters Coalescing into Distrustful New Election Integrity Movement by Steven Rosenfeld

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Philadelphia’s Unprecedented Housing Deal Will Cede Vacant Houses to Homeless Protesters by April M. Short

As Trump’s Plot to Subvert the Election Fails, Will Ivanka Snitch on Her Father? by Bill Blum

Teachers Are on a Tightrope With No Safety Net by Emily James

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