Our Takes

Ukrainian victory will not be limited to the battlefield. It will also be determined by how the country rebuilds with help from both government officials and civil society alike. Senior Fellow for Malign Finance Josh Rudolph and partners outline recommendations in two reports: one on how donors can deepen engagement with Ukraine’s civil society and another that recommends conditioning assistance to Ukraine.

While some US political podcasters have peddled Russian conspiracy theories about the war in Ukraine, the majority from across the political spectrum rejected—and, in some cases, rebuked—this disinformation, Senior Fellow Bret Schafer, Investigative Data and Research Analyst Peter Benzoni, Jessica Brandt, and Valerie Wirtschafter find in a new report.

Poland’s allies should warn Warsaw behind closed doors that crossing certain red lines around the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections will trigger public condemnation, Senior Fellow for Malign Finance Josh Rudolph, Research Trainee Ayleen Cameron, and Anna Wójcik write in a new report.

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News and Commentary

Arizona hit hard by high turnover of election officials: A new report by Issue One found that roughly 40% of all chief local election officials in the western United States are new since 2020; in Arizona, 80% of the state’s counties have at least one new election official, a turnover that affects 98% of the state’s 2024 voters. Senior Elections Integrity Fellow David Levine said, As a former state and local election official, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to run a successful election, even when you have years of experience under your belt.  Asking inexperienced officials to shoulder this burden for a presidential election in the current hyperpolarized atmosphere is a tall order, to put it mildly, and those seeking to subvert US elections know it. If 2024 is to be a success, it can’t just be done on the backs of election officials, experienced or not. It will also likely require timely, contextualized reporting from the media; greater funding from policymakers; more principled stands from elected officials and candidates, regardless of the outcome; greater engagement by election vendors; more assistance from social media and tech platforms; and strong support from voters.”

X faces consequences following cutbacks to disinformation safeguards: Prominent Russian, Chinese, and Iranian state media accounts on X saw a 70% increase in engagement after the platform removed “state-affiliated” labels on their pages; likewise, a European Commission study found that X is the biggest purveyor of disinformation, much of it coming from Russia. In the same week, X reportedly laid off half of its election integrity team and disabled a feature that lets users report false information about elections. Senior Fellow Bret Schafer told the Dispatch, Since Elon Musk’s takeover of X, the company has rolled back or eliminated most initiatives that were put in place to address problems on the platform. Unsurprisingly, study after study has shown that this approach has been a boon for propagandists and has led to an uptick in toxic behavior. With the Digital Services Act coming into effect in the EU, this is going to put X firmly in the crosshairs of European regulators, who seem eager to make an example out of a company that seems to be going out of its way to be noncompliant.”

In Case You Missed It

  • Russian-backed hackers have intensified campaigns against Ukrainian law enforcement, targeting the prosecutor general’s office and courts, to identify and obtain evidence of Russian war crimes and lists of suspected Russian war criminals. 
  • The European Commission and Slovakia’s government warned Alphabet, TikTok, and Meta in a series of meetings to combat disinformation and pro-Russian propaganda on their platforms before Slovakian elections on September 30 or risk fines.
  • The Czech Security Information Service said Russian agents bribed various Czech public figures and journalists with payments of thousands of euros and several foreign trips to spread pro-Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine.
  • The European Commission is investigating allegations that Polish officials issued hundreds of thousands of illegal visas in Africa and Asia in exchange for bribes.
  • UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly confirmed that Britain invited China to its summit on artificial intelligence in November, citing the country’s influence on global AI technology.

ASD in the News

Quote of the Week

“With AI, the rampant disinformation we have seen in recent years will quickly grow in quantity and quality. We need guardrails to protect our elections.”

—US Senator Amy Klobuchar said in opening remarks for a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing on AI and the Future of Elections on Wednesday, September 27.

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