Danger: What If Russia Helps Trigger A ‘Rigged’ Election Scare?

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Like every other responsible citizen, I’m concerned about Donald Trump’s preemptive declaration that the election is rigged. Odds are that nothing will come from this, but I believe he is playing with fire (and the American people are the ones who will be scorched).

Belief in the efficacy of one’s vote is about as fundamental as it gets, and anything that erodes confidence in the legitimacy of an election could have monumental consequences—possibly even touching off a Constitutional crisis.

A reader posed this hypothetical situation:

What if we are on the cusp of a true national and international crisis? Trump loses the election and instead of saying the American people have spoken, he continues to claim the election was rigged … To help with this, what if Russia decides to play with the election. On election night, they hack into the websites that are reporting results and show Trump leading when he really isn’t, or what if they actually hack some voting machines and Trump outperforms polls in those states by 8%+. Trump’s people use those states as examples to show that all of the other states are rigged. Russia, and other people who are friends with them (maybe even China), claim Trump is the rightful winner and should be President. Things keep escalating.

This scenario sounds crazy, but ask yourself—is it? It’s not like Russia hasn’t already attempted to use cyberattacks to influence a presidential election.

Back in September, I interviewed cyber security expert Igor Volovich, CEO and co-founder of ROMAD Cyber Systems, about the hacking scandals. Volovich took this scenario very seriously, describing the hypothetical interference in our upcoming election as a potential “Democracy 9/11.”

“The erosion of democratic institutions is a true objective,” Volovich warned. And, unlike the old days, where undermining a nation’s institutions took decades, “It’s very easy; you just compromise the polling stations. You compromise the polling boxes. You compromise the portal that reports the news. And we saw all of that take place in Ukraine in 2014.”

“I argue that defense of those kinds of fundamental foundational institutions is just as important as protecting against something like an [electromagnetic pulse attack],” he continued.

The possibility that Trump’s warnings of a rigged election could be magnified by foreign propaganda makes this a truly dangerous game he is playing. If you were a foreign government looking to undermine America, this would be an incredibly cheap and easy way to do it—all without firing a single shot.

Anyone who is pushing this “rigged” narrative is potentially aiding and abetting the destruction of the American system.

Matt K. Lewis