Breach podcast, step 6: Accepting the result, or being a good loser

 

Disinformation campaigns should be easy to spot. Messaging like this is designed to depress the entire electorate and make people everywhere believe their votes don’t count.

 

Even after the vote is over, it’s not over.  A critical element of democracy is that the losing side accepts the results. Think back to step 1: If an enemy of democracy could foment enough disenchantment that a sizable set of the population refuses to accept the legitimacy of the election, that could be enough to “hack” the election process, too.


What is this? It’s a series on the life-cycle of your vote, and all the ways it can be hacked. You can go back to the beginning, or even better, listen to the podcast.

Listen to the podcast on Stitcher

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pods/breach

or iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/breach/id1359920809?mt=2


“Messaging around the integrity of voter information or the legitimacy of the election is something I’m really worried about,” Monaco said. “So aside from hard hacking of infrastructure, (what scares me most is) a disinformation campaign that would say, ‘The vote’s not legitimate, these people couldn’t vote, their voting records were altered,” even if that stuff’s not true. I mean the scary part is like with a kernel of truth that would really, really empower that disinformation campaign. So that’s like a nightmare scenario for me.”

In our market, the dollar bill is the fundamental unit of capitalism in America, The integrity of the dollar bill is paramount. If one day people decided, “What is the dollar really worth? I’m not sure. I don’t trust this thing.” Our country would collapse. Voting is exactly the same way. The vote is the central unit of democracy, and right now the vote is under serious threat. People right now are asking themselves, “Should I really take a vote or not? Does that really matter? Does it really count? When we added them all up, is it really correct?” It’s that fundamental an assault on our way of life.

Kim Zetter, who’s been reporting on election hacking for a decade, lays out the dark reality. Russian election interference is only the latest in a long line of problems with the way we vote in America.

“I would say that the Russians are a red herring because that’s not why we should be looking at this. This problem has existed since 2002, people have ignored it,” she said. What is the real danger? “Everything is the danger. Danger is a software bug that could cause the machine to not record your vote to — to lose votes, to record it inaccurately. The danger is an insider in the election office, anyone who is opposed to U.S. foreign policy, anyone who has a gripe with the U.S. And again, it doesn’t have to be someone who’s really sophisticated. “

If all this seems hopeless, it’s not.  For starters, every single expert we talked to about election hacking said that, while the problem is challenging, democracy is far from doomed.

“I have confidence in our democratic institutions, and we’ve survived a lot,” said Adam Levin, whose company Cyberscout performs security audits for state election officials. “And my belief is that we’re going to survive this as well, but the truth is, look, it is a Herculean task. It is a daunting task. No one denies that. But this country has always stepped up, always. At some point, we dug down deep, and we stepped up.”

What can you do? Step up and vote. And be informed. The biggest vulnerability in democracy is apathy. The fewer people who vote, the easier it is the manipulate the result. The fewer people who work hard to be informed, the easier they are to manipulate.  The angrier you are, the easier it is to set you against your fellow citizens.  So vote on (or before!) election. Read, read, read before and after the election to stay informed. And don’t fall for the enemies’ “divide and conquer” strategy or “let’s you and him fight” tactics. Disagree, but keep America a civil society. There’s a lot you can do to prevent the hacking of democracy. Listening to the full podcast would be a good start.

–PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT–

AI VOICE:
Step six: after the results.
ALIA:
Hold on. I thought announcing the result would be the end of our crazy Rube Goldberg machine
lifecycle of your vote adventure.
BOB:
But wait, there’s more.
ALIA:
How?
BOB:
Well just like propaganda and disinformation can hack the inception of your vote, I think it can
hack the legitimacy of your vote after everything is said and done by questioning the results. So
you know, if Bob wins it’s a real vote, but if the Alia wins, it’s a fake vote.
ALIA:
Nick Monaco, our disinformation researcher agrees.

NICK:
Messaging around the integrity of voter information or the legitimacy of the election is something
I’m really worried about. So aside from like, hard hacking of infrastructure, like a disinformation
campaign that would say um, the vote’s not legitimate, these people couldn’t vote, their voting
records were altered, even if that stuff’s not true. I mean the scary part is like with a kernel of
truth that would really, really empower that disinformation campaign. So that’s like a nightmare
scenario for me.
BOB:
So in our market, the dollar bill is the fundamental unit of capitalism in America, right? The
integrity of the dollar bill is paramount. If one day people decided, what is the dollar really
worth? I’m not sure. I don’t trust this thing. Our country would collapse. Voting is exactly the
same way. The vote is the central unit of democracy, and right now we — it is a situation as if
people were saying “Ah, the dollar, I don’t know. Should I really take your dollar or not?” People
right now are asking themselves, “Should I really take a vote or not? Does that really matter?

Does it really count? When we added them all up, is it really correct?” It’s that fundamental an
assault on our way of life.
ALIA:
So Bob, it’s like our votes can be hacked every single day in our hearts?
BOB:
The hacking of the American heart. Yeah, I think that that’s true. And I do think that not only
have our votes been hacked and our minds have been hacked, but our hearts have been
hacked a bit too.

 

 

About Bob Sullivan 1286 Articles
BOB SULLIVAN is a veteran journalist and the author of four books, including the 2008 New York Times Best-Seller, Gotcha Capitalism, and the 2010 New York Times Best Seller, Stop Getting Ripped Off! His latest, The Plateau Effect, was published in 2013, and as a paperback, called Getting Unstuck in 2014. He has won the Society of Professional Journalists prestigious Public Service award, a Peabody award, and The Consumer Federation of America Betty Furness award, and been given Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award.

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