Keep Our Republic discusses protecting voters' choice in the 2024 presidential election at the University of Pittsburgh
Free the Facts Ambassador Livia LaMarca attended the event at the University of Pittsburgh on November 8, 2023.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics and Dick Thornburgh Forum for Law and Public Policy hosted Keep our Republic on November 8, 2023 in a moderated event at the University Club titled “Protecting Voter Choice in the 2024 Presidential Election.” The IOP and Thornburgh Forum partnered with Pitt Cyber, Pitt Law, and The University of Pittsburgh Frederick Honors College to host the event as well.
Keep Our Republic is a nonpartisan civic education organization founded in 2020 with the purpose of discovering, highlighting, and preventing potential threats to American democracy and educating the public on such issues. They came to speak to the University of Pittsburgh community to discuss potential threats to the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election as part of a larger speaker series at Pitt titled “Preserving our Democracy.”
The event featured three members of Keep our Republic’s Pennsylvania Advisory Council: Former Governor Tom Corbett, former U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cindrich, and Amanda Green-Hawkins, a voter-protection attorney, in discussion with Moderator David Thornburgh, a senior advisor to the Chair of Seventy and Chair of Ballot PA, groups working to eliminate closed primaries in Pennsylvania.
Throughout the evening, the panelists spoke about voters’ access to the internet and the spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media. In his questioning, Thornburgh defined disinformation as “purposeful bad information” and misinformation as unintentional.
Green-Hawkins responded to a question on how good information can reach voters by saying, “It’s not easy, to say the least.” She continued, “We not only have all of these methods of voter suppression and disenfranchisement, but we also have misinformation being readily available. Disinformation also.”
Judge Cindrich noted the dangerous effects of misinformation being so easily available, “Pretty soon this little bit of misinformation that has been out to [individuals] causes a ripple effect that also begins to undermine on a broader scale confidence in law and confidence in government.”
He, as well as the other panelists, cited the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol and the spread of incorrect information as a turning point for their mission. Judge Cindrich said “Never did I think over the past 80 years that I’ve been here in this country as a citizen, as a lawyer, as a public official that I would actually be up at night wondering whether we can keep our republic.”
At Judge Cindrich’s call to “talk to your neighbors,” Thornburgh asked the panelists how exactly citizens should reach across the aisle and talk to those of the opposite political party.
Former Governor Corbett put it quite simply - “Before you start talking, you need to listen.”
He called upon the audience to take these conversations beyond the dining room table and beyond their families, stating: “We need to take it into the workplace. We need to take it into the community.”
At the end of the event, Thornburgh asked the panelists a widely requested question posed by members of the audience - “What did we learn from January 6th?”
Corbett kicked off by highlighting that at the end of the day, those who tried to overthrow the election lost. “We’ve learned that people are willing to break the law to try and change an election. But we’ve also learned the value of the judges and the judiciary and law enforcement for bringing those people to justice.”
Judge Cindrich’s answer was far less positive. He said “I think what we’ve learned is that large masses of the people can be disinformed in such a way as to bring them to violence. And, they’re still disinformed. Nothing has changed.”
This is the core of the Keep Our Republic mission - informing the public and maintaining voting integrity. They are actively working to undo the damage of incorrect information being so widely available and educating the public properly. All three of the panelists recognize the importance of bipartisanship and communication, which are needed in order to keep our republic strong and maintain voter integrity in the upcoming elections.
“I think that we’ve taken our democracy for granted,” said Green-Hawkins. “But we have a lot of work to do to keep it.”