by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Hacking experts are warning of a growing potential for attacks on the 2020 election that could leave in doubt who the winner is, leading to political chaos and deeper distrust within the nation.
In one scenario just laid out, foreign digital enemies would bump voters from registration lists, causing disarray at the polls and an eventual media frenzy over unfair elections.
In another, the attack would come from domestic meddlers distorting actual news to attack candidates, or a replay of the 2016 hack of Democratic Party emails followed by a leak of the most damaging.
“The potential for another hack and leak operation is extremely high,” said Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert. “That is worrisome,” added Jankowicz, whose book on online warfare, How to Lose the Information War, is expected in the summer.
Ben Buchanan, who has investigated famous world hacking attacks and just published The Hacker and the State, said voter meddling is the top concern going into the 2020 elections.
Buchanan, who joined Jankowicz at a briefing hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said a likely Russian attack would be on voter rolls.
“We have a saying in the elections business, that elections have two purposes, and the first is to pick the winner, and the second is to convince the loser that they’ve lost. I think that the opportunity to interfere with the second purpose is very ripe in 2020 for Russia or other nations’ operatives to try to sow disinformation or chaos on or after Election Day,” said Buchanan.