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electionline Weekly

June 13, 2024

Long-Term Investments in Rural Broadband Access Strengthen Democracy
Federal broadband initiatives can promote access to voting, especially in rural communities

By Elizabeth Howard, Jiyoon Park, Alice Clapman, Keely Varvel
The Brennan Center and Arizona Secretary of State’s Office

Reliable access to the internet, a critical portal to information, tools, and opportunities in today’s world, is uneven across the United States. Poorer and more rural communities often have the least access or no access, which puts them at a disadvantage compared to their well-resourced neighbors. As the National Association of Counties explained, “Without access to high-speed internet, many of our rural communities are becoming increasingly isolated and left behind.” (1)

One overlooked consequence of this divide is how it impedes election administration improvements. Election jurisdictions with broadband infrastructure have many advantages, such as more options to communicate election information, including real-time updates, and more options to make voting easier for eligible voters. Lack of connectivity keeps rural communities from capitalizing on these benefits.

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