Opinion The next big threat to democracy: Under-the-radar election sabotage


HR King
May 29, 2001
Anyone concerned about the survival of U.S. democracy is focused, for good reason, on a troubling number of high-profile Republican candidates who either refuse to accept the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 or proclaim outright that Donald Trump was the true winner.

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But there is another threat to our elections that could be equally significant, one that does not announce itself in television ads or get as much attention from the news media. It’s the threat of stochastic election sabotage carried out by largely anonymous local officials and activists.

You might have heard of “stochastic terrorism,” the threat posed not by organized terrorist groups but by randomly distributed individuals who are inspired by extremism and plan lone acts of violence. Similarly, we’re seeing the evolution of a loose network of conspiracy theorists and Trump cultists who seem willing to do anything to ensure Republican victories — including breaking the law. Some might decide the time has come for them to take matters into their own hands.

Consider what happened in Coffee County, Ga., a rural, overwhelmingly Republican county; Trump won there by 40 points in 2020. Earlier this year, we learned that the local election supervisor became convinced of something fishy going on in her state. So, on Jan. 7, 2021, she opened her offices to a group of men who it turns out were working for disgraced Trump attorney Sidney Powell. The supervisor said she thought they could prove “that this election was not done true and correct.”
In the latest development, surveillance video shows that the men were escorted in by the chair of the county Republican Party, who claimed under oath that she had only briefly stopped into the election office. In fact, the videos reveal she stayed for hours with Powell’s operatives. The men spent eight hours “copying sensitive software and data from its voting machines,” as The Post reports.
The details in the Coffee County case are a bit complicated, but the very fact that operatives hired by Trump’s lawyer were traipsing around election offices and accessing what is supposed to be secure equipment is profoundly disturbing. And it’s not the only place something like this happened.

We’ve seen similar stories in Colorado, Michigan and Ohio: allegations of local election officials working with Trumpist conspiracy theorists to “prove” various kinds of voter fraud, all to show that Trump won in 2020.
Every time this happens, it means those local officials made a decision that, despite procedures and laws in place to secure their systems, equipment, files and information, they would nonetheless allow Trump acolytes access, all because of a delusion about a stolen election.
How do we know that it won’t happen again in 2024 — not after the election is decided and not in a few places here and there, but in dozens or hundreds of local election offices, while counting continues? How do we know there won’t be illegal tampering, as right-wing election officials decide the results just don’t look right to them, and something must be done to correct them?

The answer is supposed to be the law. The United States has a highly decentralized election system, but there are rules in place to which everyone is supposed to adhere, rules that prevent any local official from substituting their own judgment for the voters’ will.
But just like the Coffee County official who decided that something just wasn’t right because a Democratic candidate won her state, others could find ways to make sure the results are what they feel they ought to be.
There are many reasons the problem could be far worse in 2024 than in 2020. Election officials have been subjected to threats and harassment, driving many out of jobs they once regarded as their civic duty.

In addition, the Republican National Committee is investing substantial resources to recruit partisan poll workers and poll watchers. Some of them are planning to break rules governing their behavior, even as Republicans inundate local election offices with public records requests in an apparent attempt to cause havoc.

This is happening at a moment when the idea that you are under no obligation to obey laws you don’t like is becoming increasingly common on the right. Much of the Republican Party has united around the idea that although Trump probably violated the law by hoarding boxes full of classified government documents, the law doesn’t apply to their dear leader, because laws are for losers.
On Fox News, Tucker Carlson spreads lies about doctors performing gender-reassignment surgery on children and proclaims, “No parent should put up with this for one second, no matter what the law says. Your moral duty is to defend your children. … You should fight back.” He did not explain which laws people should break as they “fight back.”

The deeper conservatives go down these right-wing rabbit holes, the more cataclysmic the imagined threat becomes. If you believe yourself a soldier fighting against vast conspiracies to change every child’s gender or to deprive Trump of his rightful rule, you’d have to be a fool to obey the law.
So yes, we should be deeply concerned about people such as Doug Mastriano and Kari Lake. But the threat of stochastic election sabotage — widely distributed, carried out by people who aren’t public figures, difficult to predict where it will emerge — is just as real. And it could be what tips the next election into outright chaos.

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HR Legend
Jul 14, 2011
"It’s the threat of stochastic election sabotage carried out by largely anonymous local officials and activists."

JFC - ignore it in 2020 and now say it's a risk? Do you seriously not know what the whole basis of the "stolen" election is? Morons (and not morans Ciggy)


HR King
Gold Member
Jan 30, 2008
The cult members are doing it right out in the open. There is nothing under the radar about what they are trying to do.
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