Back in 2016, the year of our last presidential election, Russian hackers left their digital fingerprints inside the vote-counting system of the state of Illinois. Experts could find no evidence that the Russian intruders actually did anything, but the fact that they’d secretly gotten inside the system was worrisome.
Now it’s 2020, and The New York Times has a story about a former Obama administration official, Evelyn Farkas, who ran unsuccessfully in a Democratic congressional primary in New York. She was attacked repeatedly online by someone writing for the Strategic Culture Foundation. A month after the election, a State Department intelligence report called the Strategic Culture Foundation a disinformation tool of Russia. Not even Farkas says the Kremlin’s attacks did her in, but another apparent Russian attempt secretly to influence an American election is unsettling.
Meddling in a Democratic Primary by muddying up one of the candidates is just a fragment, say top counter-intelligence officials, of a much wider online campaign to turn the 2020 election process to chaos. They accuse Russia, China and Iran of election-related cyber-attacks or disinformation campaigns.
But whatever threats outside enemies present to the November vote are more than matched by what Americans are doing to suppress voter participation and undermine the credibility of the results.
Why President Trump himself suggested the vote might have to be postponed from November 3 to protect it from alleged insecurity and corruption!
So – the 2020 elections – what could go wrong?
Matt Vasilogambros reports for Stateline, a news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Before joining Pew, he was a writer and editor at The Atlantic, where he covered national politics and demographics. Previously, he was a staff correspondent at National Journal and has written for Outside. In 2017, he completed the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. He is a graduate of Drake University.