Our Take

ICYMI, in mid-2020, ASD convened a bipartisan task force of 30 leading experts to devise a national strategy for the United States to regain the initiative in the emerging competition against autocracies. Our new report builds upon the task force’s findings to outline a blueprint for democracies to reinvest in their strengths, build resilience at home, and exploit the brittleness of authoritarians across the political, economic, technological, and information domains.

There is no evidence to call into question the integrity of the election, nor is there any evidence that should call into question the integrity of the vote counting process, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said on “Bloomberg Technology.”

The United States’ unilateral action on TikTok has failed to draw a clear distinction between democratic and autocratic measures taken in the name of national security, Emerging Technologies Fellow Lindsay Gorman writes in Lawfare.

Georgia officials can take three steps now to ensure the integrity of the state’s runoff elections in January, Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine writes in The Fulcrum.

Hamilton 2.0 Analysis

Last week, Russian state media focused on several key themes around the U.S. election, including allegations of mainstream media bias and social media censorship; claims of voter fraud and other irregularities in the election; depictions of actual or potential violence resulting from the election; and the idea that U.S. democracy is broken. Characteristically, Ruptly, RT’s online video service, provided near-constant live streams of protests/celebrations across the country, often highlighting more extreme elements within those gatherings.  Chinese state media outlets provided far less coverage of the U.S. elections than most other outlets worldwide. As with Russian state media, however, Chinese state media also highlighted sporadic instances of violence across the United States, framing it as evidence of “post-election chaos.” Uncharacteristically, Iranian state media and government accounts produced a significant amount of coverage of the U.S. elections, playing up dysfunction in the U.S. electoral process and casting President Trump as despotic and isolated. In particular, the Supreme Leader of Iran took several shots at the democratic process, calling it a “spectacle” and “the ugly face of liberal democracy.”

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News and Commentary

U.S. officials express confidence in the security of the 2020 elections: On November 3, Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), announced that election security officials had seen “no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.” This statement was echoed by General Paul Nakasone, the leader of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, who noted that he was “very confident” in the actions taken to ensure the 2020 election was secure from foreign interference. Those actions included moves meant to retaliate against Iran for carrying out an information operation ahead of Election Day that aimed to intimidate Democratic voters and undermine confidence in the voting process. International election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also commented that they found no systemic irregularity or wrongdoing in the election, while warning that President Trump’s baseless allegations of voter fraud “undermined public trust” in democracy. Experts have warned that foreign actors could seek to amplify domestic disinformation aimed at sowing confusion and delegitimizing the results of the election. ASD Emerging Technology Fellow Lindsay Gorman argued that the U.S. Intelligence Community has made significant progress in combating foreign interference since 2016 by improving their ability to anticipate and defend against adversary activity, increasing coordination with social media platforms, and communicating more clearly with the public. (CISA, The Washington Post, Voice of America, Defense One)

 

In Case You Missed It

  • Social media platforms have taken steps to reduce the spread of disinformation that is designed to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the U.S. presidential election.
  • A senior TikTok executive admitted the platform has censored content related to the cultural genocide that the Chinese Communist Party is carrying out against Uighurs in Xinjiang, China.
  • Chat groups on WeChat are targeting Chinese Americans with false claims that the United States is mobilizing troops to put down election-related riots.
  • The Department of Justice seized 27 domains used by Iran to advance a global covert influence campaign.
  • The United Kingdom has begun offensive cyber operations to disrupt Russian-linked disinformation campaigns around coronavirus vaccines.
  • In the first use of Australia’s new foreign interference laws, a Chinese-Australian man was arrested for “preparing for a foreign interference offense.”
  • Facebook dismantled seven networks of fake accounts that were spreading false and misleading information across eight countries.

ASD in the News

Foreign Actors Haven’t Interfered Like Last Time. But the Disinformation Fight Is Just Beginning, Foreign Policy. Comments from Director Laura Rosenberger

A Big 2020 Election Hack Never Came. Here’s Why, Defense One. Comments from Emerging Technologies Fellow Lindsay Gorman

It might not feel like it, but the election is working, MIT Technology Review. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine 

Voting, Elections, and Representation Part 36: The Importance of a Peaceful Transition of Power, 60-Second Civics. Interview with Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Voting, Elections, and Representation Part 35: Verifying the Vote, 60-Second Civics. Interview with Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Kristine Berzina Speaks to DW News on the U.S. Election and the State of Democracy, DW News. Interview with Senior Fellow Kristine Berzina

The Russians have no need to spread misinformation. Trump and his allies are doing it for them, NBC News. Comments from Media and Digital Disinformation Fellow Bret Schafer and Non-Resident Fellow Clint Watts

Dis.Information: Russia, China & the Spectre of Democracy, “SpyCast.” Interview with China Analyst Bryce Barros and Program Manager and Analyst Brad Hanlon

Report: Pennsylvania Was a Hotspot for Disinformation on Election Day, WLVT. Comments from Media and Digital Disinformation Fellow Bret Schafer

Biden Presidency Could Lessen Tensions With Iran, But Shift Unlikely To Happen Overnight, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Comments from Middle East Fellow Ariane Tabatabai 

What worked: strategies to mitigate foreign election interference, The Fulcrum. Interview with Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Officials on alert for potential cyber threats after a quiet Election Day, The Hill. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

US Officials Confident in Secure Election, Turn Focus to Disinformation, VOA. Comments from Media and Digital Disinformation Fellow Bret Schafer

Officials warn delayed vote count could lead to flood of disinformation, The Hill. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Australia has friends in Biden’s inner sanctum, The Australian Financial Review. Comments from Co-Director Zack Cooper

When I Say NATO, You Say…, NATO. Video featuring Fellow and Program Manager Nad’a Kovalčíková

Alegeri SUA 2020. Interviu cu David Levine (US 2020 Elections. Interview with David Levine), Antena 3. Interview with Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Donald Trump alega fraude pero esta es la evidencia que demuestra que el voto ausente es seguro (Donald Trump alleges fraud but evidence shows that absentee voting is safe), Vanguardia. Comments from Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine

Quote of the Week

Importantly, after millions of Americans voted, we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies. We are only here because of the hard work of state and local election officials and private sector partners who have focused efforts on enhancing the security and resilience of elections.”

Christopher Krebs, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said on November 4.

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The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.