The 2022 election could be a turning point in American democracy

What is happening

Americans will head to the polls on November 8 to vote in major statewide and congressional elections.

why is it important

Democracy advocates say it’s especially important for people to vote this year, as candidates who continue to push the ‘big lie’ that the 2020 election was stolen are running with Republican tickets for office. the state, including the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general.

And after

If elected, these candidates could push through laws that infringe the right to vote under the guise of improving election security, suffrage advocates say. Many of these candidates campaigned on the promise to do just that. They could also refuse to certify the results of future elections if they do not agree with them.

There is no shortage of people – both in the United States and abroad – who are actively trying to overturn next week’s US election. While it may be tempting to stay home, experts say it’s absolutely essential that people get out and vote because the very future of American democracy could hang in the balance this year.

Despite concerns about foreign interference dating back to before the 2016 presidential race, security experts say the US election is safer than it has ever been. But that hasn’t stopped proponents of the “big lie” from making groundless claims that the 2020 presidential race was robbed by some kind of fictitious voter fraud. In the two years that followed, none of these allegations were proven.

It is these misrepresentations and the people pushing them that experts say are conspiring to keep some Americans from voting this year, while embroiling the electoral process in frivolous and lengthy court battles.

Meanwhile, about 35 campaign dollars are running on Republican tickets in key statewide races in more than half the country, according to the non-partisan group United States. If elected, they could affect the conduct of elections and the counting of votes in future contests, including the 2024 presidential race.

“It’s not pretty, and if someone had told me ten years ago that this is where we would be right now, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Tammy Patrick, senior advisor for elections to the non-partisan organization. Democracy Fund. “There’s no way.”

The irony, she says, is that it’s really to those who vote in the midterm elections on November 8 to decide which way they want things to go.

Domestic Threats

This year, the biggest threat, experts say, comes not from abroad, but from Americans at home. Over the past two years, proponents of the “big lie” – people who continue to support former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him by some kind of voter fraud – have also pledged to bring down the system by any means necessary.

Election officials say the armies of 2020 denarii have went down to their officesdemanding to inspect election materials, taking photos and video to document alleged “abnormalities” that could be used in later legal challenges.

These threats worry many election officials both about the sanctity of the elections they oversee and the possibility of protracted court battles. It also raised the specter of potential violence against election officials, poll workers and voters themselves.

In Arizona, a group of people, many of whom are armed, masked and wearing bulletproof vests, watched the ballot boxes in the open air. Suffrage activists have asked a judge to bar them from the polls, saying their activities amount to voter intimidation. The judge, who was appointed by Trump, refused, saying it could violate the group’s constitutional rights.

While some people have clearly abused the process, local officials across the country have gone to great lengths to bolster transparency at the local level, giving outside observers close insight into how the process works before and during the elections.

This transparency, along with the ability for ordinary people to engage in the electoral process constructively, is key to combating misinformation and the outright lies of those who seek to destroy it, said Matt Masterson, the former top responsible for electoral security. for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the federal agency responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

“The best response to this doubt, this distrust and this dissent, this push to undermine our democracy, is strong participation from Americans from all political backgrounds,” said Masterson, who is now director of integrity for information at Microsoft, during a recent round table. organized by the Aspen Institute.

Yes, our elections are secure

Former CISA director Chris Krebs, who led a campaign to tackle election-related misinformation, called the 2020 presidential election that year “the safest” in American history.

Krebs’ statement, made in the days after the election and overwhelmingly backed by election security experts, countered the lies continually tweeted by then-President Trump, falsely claiming that the election had been rigged by voting systems, fanning the flames of misinformation and misinformation that months later would be followed by the deadly January 6, 2021, Storming of the US Capitol by some Trump supporters.

Two years later, Krebs says the system remains secure. While nation states love Russia, China and Iran have long attempted to undermine US elections through cyber espionage and cyberattacks, their interest and ability to do so has not changed much in the past two years, Krebs told CNET in a September interview.

This year, cybersecurity researchers have spotted disinformation campaigns on social media that they believe are the work of Russia and China, but note that they have failed to gain traction.

In particular, Russia’s efforts appear to have been undermined by the ongoing war it has unleashed in Ukraine, according to Recorded Future. Meanwhile, a campaign involving fake Twitter accounts and edited news articles that Mandiant researchers say is likely the work of a group acting in the political interests of China that has received little exposure on social media.

Speaking at Mandiant’s recent mWise conference in Washington, D.C., current CISA Director Jen Easterly noted that election security has come a long way since 2017, when elections were first named. times as critical infrastructure. This change opened the door to increased federal funding and involvement.

“Americans should go to the polls knowing that an incredible job has been done to secure our election infrastructure,” Easterly said. There are hundreds of thousands of people in government and the private sector working to ensure elections continue to be safe and resilient, Easterly added.

So what happens to Holocaust deniers?

Then there are the Holocaust deniers. This is where things get a little scary and why experts say it’s so important to vote this year.

What could have the biggest effect on the future of democracy this year are the contests for statewide positions.

Voters across most of the country will elect new governors, secretaries of state and attorneys general. And 2020 election results deniers are running for at least one of those offices in each of the 27 states, according to UNITED STATESthe research.

Many of these candidates have pledged to adopt policies that restrict the right to vote of certain people under the pretext of improving election security. These kinds of laws have already been adopted in several statesincluding Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Oklahoma, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, which also notes that they disproportionately affect people of color.

Additionally, in three states – Alabama, Arizona and Michigan – Holocaust deniers are running for those three state offices. If they win, suffrage advocates say, state officials working in tandem could refuse to certify the results of an election if they simply disagree with the outcome.

At the federal level, more Holocaust deniers in Congress could also overturn future election results. The same day Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, a total of 147 Republicans in the House and Senate voted together to nullify the presidential election results, despite no evidence of fraud.

While some of those candidates are running in heavily Democratic areas and facing long odds, the majority of them are expected to win, according to an analysis by the Washington Post. Of the 299 registered to vote for the House, Senate and major statewide races, 174 are running for Republican seats safely, the Post found. 51 others are run in hotly contested races.

Meanwhile, state election officials are bracing for a possible series of court fights after the results are announced. High profile ‘Big Lie’ promoters, such as former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who worked to overturn the 2020 election, are already building challenges to potential Republican losses.

Not only could that prolong the election, but it could jeopardize the results, Patrick, of the Democracy Fund, said at the same Aspen Institute event at which Microsoft’s Masterson spoke. She notes that the courts themselves have not been immune to problems in recent months.

“I think there will be a lot of appeals, and if things end up in the Supreme Court, I don’t know if there’s anyone who is very confident about what that outcome could actually be. ” she says.

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