What Democracy Looks Like

Once invisible to the general public, election administrators have become the central characters in an ongoing public debate about the integrity of our elections. With unprecedented access to its frontlines, What Democracy Looks Like (w.t.) follows the election process in one state - Rhode Island - and bears witness to the challenges, stresses, and strategic navigations of its elections workforce during one of the most significant votes in US history.

Over the years, public scrutiny of our election process has fallen on candidates, campaign financing and results reporting; but election workers themselves have largely been out of the public’s view. Their labor is core to the functioning of democracy and yet, what they do is a mystery to the public at large.

What Democracy Looks Like will tell the story of the 2020 election from the typically unseen perspective of the staff at each link in the chain of our complex voting system. This story focuses on the election workforce of Rhode Island where election labor is divided between the Secretary of State’s office, the Board of Elections (BOE) and the Local Boards of Canvassers. This multi-layered, multi-agency collaboration is complex in its design, with security deliberately in mind. But this year, every single step in the process was stress tested.

Following the key players who ensure the voting system succeeds during the plagues of virus and disinformation, the film moves from location to location, and character to character as they handle each crisis. By centering the story in the daily work lives of RI’s election teams during the most intense months of the election, the film promises to take viewers on a voting adventure like no other.