Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

John Andrew Sinclair

Rights Information

© 2021 Kathleen J Cummings


This thesis examined the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the administration of the 2020 general election and identified the resulting implications on election outcomes and electoral legitimacy. This research investigated the COVID-19 policy responses imposed by state election officials for the 2020 primary elections and observed their effects on voter participation and ballot rejection to predict and compare election administration trends in the general election. To isolate the effects of the pandemic, this research presents a case study of North Carolina and Georgia, two battleground states whose primary dates were bisected by the pandemic announcement. The results indicate that making emergency changes to election procedure was associated with positive effects on turnout and negative impacts on ballot acceptance in the 2020 elections, which is in part validated by the primary election analysis. When comparing 2020 ballot rejections to elections’ past, making changes was associated with increased ballot acceptance. This research concluded that election administration in the 2020 election was highly successful given its record-breaking turnout and lack of substantial ballot rejection issues. While election administration proved triumphant in spite of the pandemic, it did not fare well in terms of lasting electoral legitimacy. Both major parties exhibited distrust that the election results could be manipulated due to the influx of election administration changes. This research gauged the popularity of Trump's various claims regarding election administration on Twitter, finding he spread overwhelming quantities of negative information. This rhetoric was divisive and exacerbated the partisan debate over secure voting methods, casting a shadow over the election administration achievements in the 2020 elections as a whole.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.