Digital Disinformation and Vote Suppression

Vandewalker, Ian

U.S. elections face extreme pressure in 2020. The Covid-19 crisis has created new challenges for election officials and pushed them to make last-minute changes to the voting process, typically with resources that were already stretched thin. Pandemic-related voting changes have become an election issue themselves, with political actors sowing confusion for the benefit of their party. Bad actors have circulated lies to trick certain groups out of voting — and thanks to social media, these deceptive practices can instantly reach huge numbers of people. Experts warn that foreign powers have learned from Russia’s 2016 election interference efforts and will try to covertly influence the American electorate this year.

State and local election officials play a crucial role in defending U.S. elections against these threats and in protecting American voters from disenfranchisement due to disinformation. Internet companies and members of the public can also take action against deceptive practices, voter intimidation, and other forms of digital vote suppression. In all cases, accurate information from trusted official sources provides the best antidote to disinformation about voting.