Disinformation, Digital Information Equality, and Electoral Integrity

Judge, Elizabeth F.; Korhani, Amir M.
Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy

Electoral disinformation campaigns intentionally deceive voters, thereby disrupting the notion of fair elections and challenging western democracies to craft new policies that safeguard their electoral integrity. Over-regulation of political speech, however, can imperil the political participation of the informed voter, who in turn engages and influences other voters. Such policies for regulating electoral disinformation must therefore balance the tension between curbing speech and encouraging voters to engage in political participation through the free flow of information. Canadian elections law offers a possible solution for jurisdictions seeking to effectively regulate disinformation without unduly stifling free expression through the principle of informational equality. We argue for an updated principle of digital information equality to address the harms of disinformation. By reinvigorating the principle of information equality and adapting it from a theoretical concept to a regulatory device, this article proposes a new method to regulate electoral disinformation while supporting an informed electorate, respecting democratic principles, and protecting electoral integrity. In so doing, the article identifies three harmful examples of electoral disinformation that warrant increased regulation and concludes with recommendations for other jurisdictions seeking to regulate disinformation in the electoral context.