Election 2020 Programming at SXSW
One of the overarching themes at the 2020 SXSW Conference is the Tuesday, November 3 US General Election. While a lot of the content focused on this topic will occur in the Government & Politics track, you’ll find content that addresses election-related concerns throughout the 22 different tracks that comprise this year’s event.
Ten of our favorite SXSW 2020 sessions about the election are as follows:
2020 Election: A Deep-Dive into Data & Digital Tactics (March 15): Using data from BPI’s 2020 Campaign Tracker, top political operatives will provide a postmortem of the Democratic primary and unveil trends taking shape in the general election. The tracker provides unprecedented insight into candidate and organization strategy — offering data on targeting, message and spend.
The 2020 Election & the Climate Apocalypse (March 14): A Democrat and a Republican walk into a room and have a deeply thoughtful and friendly debate about one of the most polarizing topics in politics today: climate change. Produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Political Climate’s mission is to normalize these bipartisan conversations and demand tangible action from our elected leaders.
2020 Elections & Grassroots Progressive Activism (March 13): Since 2016, there has been an unprecedented surge in grassroots political activism across the country. But as people seek to move beyond marching in the streets and posting on social media, and turn their attention to winning elections, many are still uncertain how, when, and where they can get involved to make a meaningful impact.
Americans’ Experiences with Misinformation & the 2020 Election (March 15): Many Americans have voiced concerns about the production and proliferation of misinformation and made-up news. This session will bring in public opinion data to focus on the human side of the issue: exploring Americans’ experiences with misinformation, actions they take in response to misinformation, and their perceptions about its impact on our democratic system and streams of information.
Disinformation in the 2020 Presidential Elections (March 19): In this Featured Session, Graphika Chief Innovation Officer Camille François will walk through the state of disinformation in the 2020 elections. She’ll look at the state of disinformation campaigns and adversaries aiming to spread propaganda and dupe the American community.
Elect Tech 2020 (March 16): This panel of experts explores the phenomenon of candidates winning un-winnable presidential elections by using disruptive technology. It also identifies strategies that 2020 candidates can adopt to leverage disruptive technology. This includes both campaign integration and proposed policies, particularly the regulation of tech companies and “corpocurrencies” like Facebook’s Libra.
Election Security: Cyber-Attacks and Deep Fakes (March 19): Jonathan King is a leading authority on cybersecurity threats. He has been warning about election hacking since before the 2016 Presidential election. Now with the 2020 election looming, he outlines why US election systems are vulnerable and how they are susceptible to information warfare using the Deep Fakes technology and other disinformation tactics to raise or suppress voting in different swing counties and states.
The Gender Gap: Covering the 2020 Election for Women (March 16): In the context of the most number of women to ever run for a single party’s presidential nomination (as well as coming off a historic “pink wave” in the 2018 midterms), this panel will explore how two leading female news executives are leading their teams to cover the 2020 election cycle for the female audience. The session will also address what makes this election different from any other in U.S. history.
Hacking an Election in 2020 (March 16): In 2016, a foreign adversary was able to hack America’s voter rolls and voting machines, and influence our elections through social media. All evidence suggests that this will happen again in the 2020 Presidential Election. Why is America’s election infrastructure so vulnerable, and what can we do about it?
The Role of Female-Led Brands in the 2020 Election (March 14): The role of women and the brands that represent their voices will be critical as we head into the next election cycle. Ex: In 2019, 8 female founders gave a glimpse into how brands could challenge policy decisions by placing a full-page New York Times ad to call on corporate America to take a stand against abortion restriction. This session will explore how entrepreneurs can use their brand voice to impact social change in 2020.
Threats to the Legitimacy of the 2020 Election (March 14): Any number of events can undermine Americans’ confidence in the legitimacy of an election. When Americans are unable to cast ballots as expected or results are not as clear as anticipated, there will inevitably be complaints about perceived bias in the system that allows partisans to attack the process itself.
What Do Democrats and Republicans Know About You? (March 15): In today’s political landscape, data is better than gold. Come take a look at what information political parties purchase, gather, and share about you as a voter, and participate in a discussion around what privacy expectations we should have as voters in a democracy.
Don’t like politics? Then rest assured that this election-related coverage is only a portion of the massive lineup of panels and presentations at SXSW 2020. Click here to browse the full schedule — and use the search bar at the top right corner of the interface to find the content that you are most interested in.
Hugh Forrest serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW, the world’s most unique gathering of creative professionals. He also tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often cover tech-related trends; other times they focus on books, pop culture, sports and other current events.