Department or Program



This thesis examines how misinformation, incendiary rhetoric, and conspiracy theories that Donald Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election — the “Big Lie” — have affected local election officials' ability to conduct free and fair elections. This is a study of how the assault and harassment of local election officials, motivated by the Big Lie, have impacted their ability to retain staff and recruit new staff. Additionally, this thesis considers the highly decentralized nature of election administration across all fifty states. Some states have centralized election laws and administration at the state level while other, decentralized, states’ election administration varies from county to county or even township to township. The four states investigated range from highly decentralized to highly centralized. The metrics I use to determine state centralization are 1) what election costs do the states pay for 2) what type of training for election officials does the state require, and 3) are there uniform voting and voter registration procedures across the state? This study examines whether the level of centralization impacts local election officials’ resiliency amid increasing election denialism and threats to electoral integrity.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Baughman, John

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.