By (guest writer) Sandra O’Hare:
While the election wasn’t necessarily hacked, other sources of valuable information relating to you and those closest to you were…
Between the repeated revelations of possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia (false or not) and the need for the 24-hour news cycle to be constantly talking about something, there is a lot of speculation our most recent election was partially the result of hacking. This has raised concerns the vote totals might have been externally influenced, bringing into question the integrity of the American electoral process.
If our election was hacked, then democracy is under attack, and America must use every resource and power it has to bring the culprits to justice. It then needs to make every effort to prevent such action from occurring again in the future. If our election was hacked, then we cannot have faith in our government and the system has lost its legitimacy. We can hardly call ourselves citizens, as the government will be deemed illegitimate.
Let us look further into the issue:
Voting Booths Are Usually Off the Grid
If we define hacking the election as entering the voting systems and changing the numbers, that is incredibly unlikely, if not totally impossible. We should look at the following facts:
- Many districts and voting booths still use a mostly or entirely paper-based system. Needless to say, you can’t hack paper, and election officials would report a difference from statistics if vote tallies didn’t match up to reported numbers on the national level.
- The level of hacking and the scale required to hack an election to the degree necessary to influence a presidential election is massive. It would take a conspiracy so large it would be impossible to keep under wraps. Someone would notice something as the numbers would slip somewhere. There are no reports of anything like that having happened.
- While being used, most election machines are not connected to the internet. The machines themselves could be attacked by an insider, but a large-scale attack influencing the election would, again, take the collective action of a network of insiders so large that it’s
So, it’s next to impossible that the election itself was hacked. Yet there is something else to consider: how technology was used in the run-up to the election.
People Can Be Manipulated with the Right Information
While the election wasn’t necessarily hacked, other sources of valuable information relating to you and those closest to you were. Hackers, with the right tools, can get demographic data and other information such as your buying or donation habits or your online history. This means anyone hoping to target you with advertising knows exactly how to manipulate you and lie to you. They know which arguments you’ll listen to and what evidence needs to be presented. You won’t get a full picture, and that kind of power from one party can sway an election. If one party gets unrestricted access to a mass data center, the election is basically in their hands.
Some people will use proxies to avoid surveillance and others will try to avoid putting information online whatsoever. Both are recommended when applicable, but it also requires a certain type of skepticism on the part of a voter. Each individual needs to recognize their own thought patterns. When they hear a message, they need to ask themselves how the message might have reached them. People need to engage critical thought, something so desperately needed in the country today.
The Media Can Be Controlled
The media is not unbiased, and it is not really on your side. They’re corporations like any other, and media juggernauts are most interested in ad revenue, higher ratings (to get more ad revenue) and messages that can aid the endeavors of their shareholders. Elections have consequences in business and on society, and as such, media companies have a vested interest to back one candidate or another. In the case of the last election, many backed Clinton.
Think about what came up when you ran searches online or what ticked into your news feed. What were the main news sources trying to feed you online? Did you notice a liberal (or at least anti-Trump) bias? The subtlest of changes to an algorithm can have massive consequences on the public, and in turn, on the election. George Soros has his machinations.
Take a look at who is trying to manipulate you. Be careful of what you are being told and be careful of what’s on your computer screen. The companies you interact with every day have their biases, and they aren’t going to be afraid to try to sway your mind come the next election. The election itself might not have been hacked, but everything leading up to it was. It is up to people like you and vigilance to carry the day for democracy.
Sandra is a writer and blogger who focuses on both political issues and technology news. Knowing the role technology played in the last election, she hopes people read more on the current political environment and how the devices they use shape their worldview.
© Copyright by Sandra O’Hare, 2017. All rights reserved.