The National Voter Protection Action Fund (NVPAF) is working with a robust team of national partners and advisors to ensure the protection of voters and the votes they cast. Brittney Packnett and NVPAF Founder Don Calloway launched a compelling video last week. They encourage viewers to contribute $5 and to support the #igot5forvoterprotection campaign.
It all sounds so dark and surreal. Something from a futurist or spymaster novel. But, pardon my grammar, this ain’t fiction. Attacks on the midterm 2018 elections already have started and remain a real threat according to congressional, federal intelligence agency and national security experts, and recent reports such as those appearing in WIRED. Despite the threat, the Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to pass an amendment to a funding bill that would have given $250 million to states for voter protection efforts. The amendment was defeated 50 to 47. Senator Bob Corker (TN) was the only Republican voting against the bill. Senators John McCain, Richard Burr and Jeff Flake did not vote. The prospect of voters encountering irregularities and vulnerabilities in several states is particularly relevant to persons of color and women.
According to a PDF summary prepared by the Congressional Research Service, there are 3 broad categorical areas most vulnerable to attack — election administration, campaigns, and media.
Top 3 Voter Protection Concerns
Election Administration. Election administration is classified as critical infrastructure for national security purposes. Attacks on election administration/infrastructure could involve registration databases, voting systems, reporting of results, or other targets. According to CRS, the goal might be to exfiltrate (surreptitiously obtain) information such as voter files, to disrupt the election process, or even to change vote counts and results. See reports related to voter protection issues in Georgia and Florida.
Campaigns. Attacks on political parties and campaigns might involve use of candidate information, communications, disruption of events, or other goals – including a foreign adversary gaining insights into the policy priorities and vulnerabilities of the party that wins at the polls.
Media. Issues related to the accuracy of media coverage, especially social media, may include spreading false or misleading information to voters with the aim of affecting their votes or eroding confidence in the election outcome. Recall the use of data on 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and Brexit referendum.