In my just concluded 3-part series, I provided some plain talk about the nonsense of several kinds of theories about elections stolen via voting machines. However, I didn’t cover two important related points: 1) what our adversaries can do to attack our democratic elections, and 2) what you, the reader can do to help.
Consider my 3 main points and then the remaining question:
- Part 1: “Evil Fellowship” of election officials stealing elections with fancy voting system technology? Nope.
- Part 2: Concerned about “Evil Software” invisibly stealing elections? Use the Two Pillars of real information about how elections work, plus your common sense to get the answer: Nope.
- Part 3: State sponsored adversaries with invisible wraith-like evil powers to hack elections? Nope. With “unhackable” paper ballots and audits, we can have the “Return of Common Sense.”
The remaining question is: We know our adversaries are real so, what kind of hacking can they really do? And what can you do about it? Surprisingly, you can do a lot. (OK, technically, that’s two questions.)
Appendix A: Concerning Enemies
Nation state adversaries of America have skilled cyber operatives who could hack our elections’ critical infrastructure, deploying “Evil Software” in their mission to weaken our democratic elections. However, when you worry about this Evil Software, there is one thing you really need to know:
It wants to be found.
If our adversaries did succeed in 1) hacking voting systems, 2) altering the vote totals, and 3) not getting caught, then the most effective attack on Americans’ confidence in a U.S. election would be to reveal the hack! That’s right: the real attack would be to make sure you (and everyone else) knew about it.
That’s what we call a “perception hack” — that is, building on something that’s true or “sort of true” to drive a disinformation campaign to change the audience’s perception. The best timing would be right during a post-election frenzy of suspicion over fraud (like we just had) for the adversaries to basically say,
“Yep, we did in fact hack your elections… right here, we caused you to certify this candidate as the winner, who actually lost — and now what are you going to do about it?”
Just like these zombie election fraud theories that keep shambling along, such a “perception hack” would be very powerful and impossible to unwind — millions would continue to believe this simple lie because the truth is inconveniently not simple, and requires some time and attention to understand.
Appendix B: Concerning You
But there is plenty that you can do individually, to help strengthen our elections:
- Please don’t stop being concerned about security vulnerabilities in election technology!
- Please don’t stop being “Missouri show-me” skeptical about election results!
- Please do support the development of new election technology that’s built for security, and built to help election officials better “show you,” in order to prove that election results are correct.
Regardless, right now, please do use this Secret Decoder Ring (series) to stop amplifying a bunch of ill-informed theories about technology used to steal elections.
Appendix C: On Language And People
And there’s one more really important thing that you can do to work against the disinformation attacks on our confidence in our elections:
Please help your friends and relatives stop feeding the “stolen election” stories that are based on Evil Technology. In doing so, you will be doing your patriotic duty to speak simple truth to conveniently complex lies, and you’ll be helping defuse the real attack on US elections — lies that de-legitimize our elections and weaken American democracy.
Your actions are important because the most important immediate issue isn’t the technology; the most important immediate thing is the work we all need to do to strengthen American democracy. And having come full circle back to that starting point, I can only say:
“Well, I’m back.”