News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
The State of Reform
Download Unite America’s free report
Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.
Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Two federal agencies have issued a warning that Russians and others may attempt to undermine our election by spreading misinformation.

FBI and DHS warn of foreign misinformation on election results

Remember election security? The Russians? What happened in 2016?

With much of the focus on mail-in ballots, drop boxes and other mechanics of voting during a public health crisis, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security want to make sure Americans know: Foreign actors are again trying again to disrupt our presidential election — including with a disinformation campaign about the results.

"The increased use of mail-in ballots due to Covid-19 protocols could leave officials with incomplete results" the night of Nov. 3, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (a part of DHS) and the FBI emphasized in a joint statement on Tuesday, and "foreign actors and cybercriminals" are expected to spread misinformation and disinformation to "exploit the time required to certify and announce elections' results."

The warning was issued as the Brennan Center for Justice,a progressive think tank that has done significant research on a broad range of election threats, issued a new study concluding that great improvement has been made in securing election systems from hacking, especially in the swing states that will decide the presidency.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Keep reading... Show less
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Testifying to Congress, Director Christopher said social media platforms are working with the FBI to combat disinformation.

FBI director says Russian election meddling is now misinformation, not hacking

Russia has switched tactics for undermining American democracy this year, focusing on the spread of misinformation instead of computer hacking to influence the presidential contest, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress on Thursday.

Moscow is using social media, online media outlets and other tools to spread misinformation and sow "divisiveness and discord" in the electorate in a bid to undermine confidence in the election, he said. And operatives have started using against Joe Biden many of the same techniques they deployed to spread falsities about Hillary Clinton four years ago.

The "malign foreign influence" campaign is designed not only "to denigrate" the Democratic nominee but also "what the Russians see as an anti-Russia establishment," Wray testified in one of the most explicit public descriptions yet of the Russian effort — one that almost totally contradicts the president's own descriptions about the foreign threat to the election.

Keep reading... Show less
eclipse_images/Getty Images

More than half the IT professionals surveyed said they had become less confident in election security since the pandemic.

The IT pros are concerned about election security this fall

The nation's professional computer geeks are very worried about the security of the election.

A survey of more than 3,000 IT professionals by their trade association, released Tuesday, found a broad array of anxiety about what state and local officials have done to prepare for the presidential vote (and left undone) — especially since the coronavirus pandemic has upended their priorities in the last six months.

Keep reading... Show less
Bastiaan Slabbers/Getty Images

Unlike this Philadelphia voter, most Pennsylvanians mailed their primary ballots in June. About 20,000 were rejected.

Pa. offers fresh evidence rejected mail ballots can be decisive

In what could be a sobering preview of the November election, about 20,000 absentee ballots returned for the Pennsylvania primary were not counted because they arrived too late or the envelopes weren't signed.

While a tiny share of the overall vote in June, the number has enormous potential significance for the presidential election. That's because, in 2016, Donald Trump carried the state and its 20 electoral votes by just twice that amount, 44,000 votes.

The rejection number, reported this week by election officials in Harrisburg, underscores how a close presidential outcome — and the arguments both candidates might make in challenging the results in tossup states — will be shaped by lawsuit decisions and legislative maneuvers in the next seven weeks over the once-arcane rules governing mailed votes.

Keep reading... Show less
© Issue One. All rights reserved.