Why election experts worry for American democracy and what they say can be done

Why election experts worry for American democracy and what they say can be done

Donald Trump first introduced unsubstantiated electoral fraud conspiracy claims into the political mainstream during the 2016 campaign, before he became the focus of his final months in the White House and, two years later, inspired those candidates and supporters. who believe so. It's a dangerous trend, according to some election experts and historians, who warn that, if left unchecked, it could weaken - or in the extreme - destroy American democracy.

The ABC News series "Democracy in Peril," which begins this week, is examining questions and concerns about America's democratic institutions at all levels in the wake of January 6. The riot in the Capitol is an example of, some experts say, how extreme election denial is on the rise, especially among Republicans – and how it can be linked to violence. And these experts say that the constant drumbeat of negativity is eroding the foundation of trust that democratic institutions rely on to function.

"For the election system to work, our entire democracy depends on trust in the electoral system to work. This is why there has always been a peaceful transition of power after elections in the United States," said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. "And if that belief is not there, there is a real risk that could see more resistance to a peaceful transition of power, more resistance to the electoral system as a whole."

Sporadic and unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud have been made since the country's inception, but they have never been made more frequent in modern times – and now, polling shows that a third of voters thinks Biden. The victory was unfair. Much of it linked to Trump, experts say, a litmus test for the heart of GOP candidates and their platform after the fraudulent claims.