On Saturday, John looked at the conclusion drawn by intelligence officials that Russia would prefer to see Donald Trump win a second term while China and Iran would like to see Joe Biden replace him in the Oval Office. With just a quick glance at the headline, you’d be forgiven for thinking that with “friends” like those, neither of the candidates is in need of any enemies. But assuming that the intelligence estimates are accurate – and I have no reason to suspect they are not – what would these global adversaries be planning to actually do about it? For a deeper look at that question, let’s review part of the Associated Press coverage of this story and how such international actors might try to dip a toe into our voting pool.
The latest intelligence assessment reflects concerns not only about Russia but China and Iran as well, warning that hostile foreign actors may seek to compromise election infrastructure, interfere with the voting process or call into question voting results. Despite those efforts, officials see it as unlikely that anyone could manipulate voting results in any sweeping way, [William] Evanina said.
“Many foreign actors have a preference for who wins the election, which they express through a range of overt and private statements; covert influence efforts are rarer,” said Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. “We are primarily concerned about the ongoing and potential activity by China, Russia and Iran.”
Two of the possible suggestions on the list sound quite serious indeed. Either compromising our election infrastructure or interfering with the voting process would be tantamount to an act of war and throw our entire electoral process into a tailspin. But even our own intelligence experts are saying that such scenarios are “unlikely” and covert influence efforts are rare.