The Russians may not have had much real success hacking our elections. But their efforts, combined with other fears brought on by extreme partisanship, a proliferation of conspiracy theories and a feeling of helplessness, have made a real impact on Americans' confidence in our elections.
A new report published by Gallup finds that only 40 percent of the country has confidence in the honesty of our elections — ranking the United States a distant 27th in the world.
The fresh warnings from intelligence officials that Russia is again intruding in the presidential race have given congressional Democrats an opening to revive their uphill push for election security legislation.
Several proposals for bolstering American democracy's protections against interference by foreign adversaries have passed the House but are stymied in the Senate, where GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell maintains they're unnecessary and designed by Democrats to get under President Trump's skin.
After news broke Thursday night about the warning delivered to lawmakers by the intelligence community's top election security official — who told them Russia is already at work meddling with the election in hopes of helping Trump win again — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer excoriated the GOP in particularly harsh terms.
Just a few weeks before the Florida presidential primary, the elections supervisor for the state's third biggest county has dropped an election security bombshell.
Wendy Sartory Link says she was told the Palm Beach County elections systems were hacked during the 2016 presidential election but the attack was never reported to state or federal authorities.
The claim immediately became embroiled in controversy, however, because the person in charge of the office at the time, Susan Bucher, denied the attack occurred and the agency's former head of information technology won't comment because he is facing unrelated criminal charges.
The contradictory stories have left other political leaders in the state perplexed.
Fear of being accused of trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election, and fear of undermining public confidence in our democracy, caused the Obama administration to mishandle its response to Russian interference during the campaign.
That's the main conclusion in the latest bipartisan report by the Senate Intelligence Committee about foreign meddling in the last presidential contest, released Thursday.
The report is significant in two ways: For the past two years the panel has been the only part of Congress working in a bipartisan way to assess election interference. And it's latest conclusions underscore what both election security experts and democracy reform advocates have been saying more and more: The fear created by what happened in 2016 is almost as much of a problem in 2020 as any new attempts by foreign powers to hack into election systems or spread misinformation.