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Election Dissection

Disinformation in 2020: new techniques, new worries

In recent days there's been some great coverage about how disinformation campaigns are evolving in 2020 and in what ways they represent an imminent threat to this year's U.S. election.

Our friends at the Alliance for Securing Democracy issued a report on new ways Russian actors are seeking to disrupt the American vote. Russia and its proxies are recruiting real, unwitting people in the U.S. to foment protests and discord, write report authors Jessica Brandt and Amber Frankland. With increasing frequency, the group says, Russia is targeting specific influencers, like journalists or activists, rather than relying on large troll farms.

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Carter Center: Irregularities don't necessarily mean an invalid election

The Carter Center, the international election-observing organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter, posted this reminder that any human enterprise on the scale of the U.S. election is bound to have some suspicious things happen. The key for the public is that lost or mismailed ballots, votes cast by dead people or machine glitches that cause long lines aren't likely to happen on the scale that would make a difference in the end result.

The Carter Center is working to improve U.S. elections for the first time this year. It's known for its efforts on elections in 39 mostly developing countries in South America, Africa and Asia. In 2020, as The Fulcrum noted last week, the organization will be working to improve the U.S. election. It has cited "deep polarization, lack of confidence in elections, obstacles to participation by minority groups and others, persistent racial injustice, and the COVID-19 pandemic," as the reason for its new work in the United States. Earlier this month David Carroll, head of the group's democracy program, said: "We've focused on places where democracy is either poised to take a step forward or in danger of taking a step backward."

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Why Microsoft's Trickbot crackdown shows 2020 election security is improving

Election Dissection caught up with David Levine of the Alliance for Securing Democracy about this week's news that Microsoft launched a preemptive strike against Trickbot, one of the world's most notorious hacker computer networks. Criminals have used Trickbot to attack banks, hospitals and local governments with ransomware in recent years. There's fear that Russia or other foreign entities could launch a ransomware attack to disrupt the 2020 count.

The actions by Microsoft, the U.S. Cyber Command and others indicate that the U.S. is in a far stronger position than it was in 2016, Levine said. Here are highlights from our interview.

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Six things to do if you face voter intimidation

With President Trump's Sept. 29 call for supporters to flood polling places to "watch the vote," there's more anxiety than normal for voters heading to the polls in 2020. The Advancement Project today issued a concise six-step guide for concerned voters.

Voters should remember that intimidation at the polling place is a federal crime, so the law will be on their side if they face intimidation, the Washington-based civil rights organization says. Voters should be mindful that any challenge to their vote must be based on a specific reason that's spelled out in the law. They have a right to know the reason their vote is being challenged and to hear from the precinct judge before the polls close. Voters should report any suspicious or aggressive behavior to officials on site. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has established a hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-667-8683) to provide real-time legal assistance.

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