Foreign Interference in the election is an ancient form of manipulation that allows countries to disrupt the political systems. In the elections of 2016 and 2020, Russia has been the primary country in attempts to interfere with the U.S. election results. The global influence of the USA on the economy and other counties pushes the opponents to interfere to weaken the positions or choose the candidate, who can be easily influenced. While America’s opponents are continuously adjusting and creating new interference measures, there is a significant probability that they will stick to what has previously worked well.
Partisan electoral interventions are a prevalent form of meddling that usually has a considerable impact on the targeted exit polls in the way that the adjudicator desires. Foreign meddling can often result in catastrophic consequences for the host country. When a foreign power supports the opposition, there is a greater chance that Americans will criticize foreign participation, lose trust in democracy, and seek vengeance than when a foreign power helps their party (Tomz and Weeks). While there is no way to prevent or prohibit foreign powers from interfering in this fashion, policymakers can considerably lessen the likelihood of such foreign involvement having a negative impact on the outcomes.
The effects of such meddling may be demonstrated in the example of the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s overall vote share climbed by around 2% as a result of Russian involvement, giving him the election victory. The consequences of election tampering do not end on election day (Tomz and Weeks). When covert electoral interventions succeed in bringing or retaining the helped leader in office, the target nation’s prospects of experiencing a democratic breakdown appear to be significantly increased. Therefore, based on previous experiences, the United States government must compile more conservative and restrictive policies to prevent and end the foreign interventions in the electoral process.
A Three-Pronged Approach
Given the experience with many of the policy approaches advocated to deal with electoral interference were demonstrated to be highly ineffective. To defend the democratic process, Washington must assure both the technical integrity of the electoral college and that citizens are not exposed to foreign interference activities that contravene with campaign finance regulations in the United States. Therefore, this goal could be achieved with a three-pronged approach.
The first step is for the U.S. to adopt an explicit declaration of policy on election meddling and draw a clear red line to prevent other countries. A cyberattack on America would be met with a strong retaliation reaction, including financial sanctions, political exclusion, and counter-cyberattacks (National Security and Defense Program, para 4). Such a measure would create a great preventive effect for certain governments that planned to attack the elections.
Second, the U.S. should strengthen its anti-election meddling defenses. It can achieve this goal by establishing a new cybersecurity agency that prioritizes election security. Creating a distinct body to handle cybersecurity would give the problem the funds and support it deserves. The system would collaborate with states and local election boards to safeguard electoral systems, including developing backup processes if electronic voting systems are hacked (National Security and Defense Program, para 6).In addition, Washington should improve international collaboration in the battle against electoral meddling. Interference like this isn’t just a problem for the United States; it’s a worldwide one.
Third, the U.S. should impose sanctions on nations that interfere in electoral politics. Election safety, like the battle against terrorism, involves a combination of measures. Furthermore, the U.S. should impose mandatory sanctions on entities that meddle in elections. Moreover, the U.S. should develop instruments for exposing autocrats. The executive branch should be entrusted with identifying autocrats’ corruption, which is undoubtedly their most serious weakness (National Security and Defense Program, para 12). Thus with all the above-mentioned measures, the electoral process in the United States would be much more protected from foreign interventions.
The three-step approach on election security against foreign involvement is a must-do move for future elections and the U.S.’s national security. It contains all of the most urgent and feasible steps that can be implemented both domestically and globally. The aforementioned ideas might cost several billion dollars to implement, but they would be a major step toward preserving the U.S. electoral system and discouraging foreign entities from engaging in the voting society.
Objections and Alternative Solutions
A thorough examination of the intervention prevention plan may raise specific objections and have a group of opposition. Primarily, such complaints may arise due to somewhat harsh methods of vote control, for example, counter cyberattacks or international exile. However, it is essential to understand that these measures would be used only on the countries, which try to meddle in the electoral process, therefore being interested in overturning the United States government. An alternative to such a matter would be a less harsh punishment, verbal communication, and a warning if caught in such wrongdoings. Nevertheless, the public must know about the attempts from certain governments to be more aware of their future and demonstrate that certain countries are interested in overthrowing democracy.
Another objection that may arise is the process of establishing a distinct structure to prioritize election security. That is because such an agency partially exists within DHS. For that reason the Congress may not support such initiative, claiming that it is unnecessary to establish a separate structure. However, if functioned separately, the cybersecurity agency would be much more effective in executing its strategies, rather than under DHS’s regulation, which may take months to approve and even longer to implement. A feasible alternative would be a trial establishment of the independent cybersecurity agency to test how it would function and benefit the country with its initiatives. Such a decision would be a practical compromise to both sides of the argument.
Elections in the United States will never be completely free of foreign meddling. The U.S. will always be a free-wheeling, turbulent democracy where rival factions and citizens can speak out. However, there is scant justification for accepting election meddling. Given the interference in two prior elections, there is an imperative need to act and apply appropriate actions to prevent such crimes in the future.
In that setting, Americans may view foreign involvement as a sign of a more significant issue rather than a one-off incident. Whether or not American democracy approaches a critical level, any declining trend is concerning because leaders find it more challenging to govern successfully when the public distrusts democratic institutions (Tomz and Weeks). As a result, the three-step plan outlined above is a collection of highly effective safeguards that, over time, will assure the highest level of election security.
National Security and Defense Program. “Defending America from Foreign Election Interference.” Council on Foreign Relations, 2019. Web.
Tomz, Michael, and Jessica L. P. Weeks. “Public Opinion and Foreign Electoral Intervention.” American Political Science Review, 2020, pp. 1–18. Web.