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Editorial: Protect the elections to avoid interference

August 06,2018 07:18

Congress may not believe it and President Trump may not buy it, but top members of his administration do, as does Facebook, one of the most popular conduits for Russian machinations to influence American elections. Nefarious efforts are again underway ...and more »


Congress may not believe it and President Trump may not buy it, but top members of his administration do, as does Facebook, one of the most popular conduits for Russian machinations to influence American elections. Nefarious efforts are again underway to disrupt American democracy and Washington is duty-bound to respond aggressively. So are the states, which actually run the elections.
“Russia attempted to interfere with the last election,” Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, flatly declared at a White House briefing on Thursday. He was clear, and he wasn’t alone.
“We acknowledge the threat. It is real. It is continuing,” said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence. “We are doing everything we can to have a legitimate election that everyone can have trust in.”
Facebook, too, appears to have gotten religion over the corrupt use of it service, after previous denials, announcing last week that it had identified a political influence campaign that appeared to be built to disrupt this fall’s midterm elections. The social media giant said it removed 32 pages and fake accounts that had engaged in activity around divisive social issues. It had briefed members of Congress the previous week.
While Facebook said it could not definitively place blame on Russia, it reported that some of the tools and techniques used were similar to those employed by a Kremlin-linked group that was at the center of a recent criminal indictment alleging interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The system is blinking red, yet neither the president nor Congress seems concerned about protecting Americans’ right to choose their own government. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked an effort to direct an extra $250 million toward election security, despite the new warnings from intelligence officials.
That puts more pressure on the states to protect the security of their elections. The need is proved by what happened in 2016, when Russians attempted to hack into the voting systems of up to 21 states, as a Department of Homeland Security official testified to the Senate last year.
It is at least something that leading members of the Trump administration acknowledge the sinister efforts to disrupt this year’s elections. It would be better if Trump, himself, and Congress were similarly alarmed.

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