Logically Bulletin: Threats to election officials and voting machines in California are likely to increase leading up to and during 2024 US elections
Logically identified two (2) trends that indicate this future potential increase in threats using Logically Intelligence®, open-source intelligence techniques, and subject matter expertise:
- Election Official Intimidation
- Organization against the use of voting machines
Election Official Intimidation
Election official intimidation has steadily increased since the 2020 US elections, largely due to the proliferation of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation (MDM) narratives. As such intimidation has become increasingly normalized through both political and non-political discourse, online and real-world threats to election officials have also increased. During the June 2022 primaries, armed individuals claiming to be election observers forced¹ their way into an election facility in Shasta County. Around the same time, the Nevada County Assistant County Clerk Recorder was the target of a harassment campaign and received one threat².
Organizing Against the Use of Voting Machines
MDM narratives that voting machines, particularly those produced by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, were used to commit election fraud circulated widely during the 2020 US elections and continued during the 2022 US midterm elections. As a result, efforts to ban or remove such voting machines from being used in elections have proliferated in various states, including California. In January 2023, online users coordinated on fringe social media platforms (e.x. Telegram, Truth Social) to organize against the use of Dominion voting machines in Kern County, CA. In March 2023, Shasta County canceled its contract with Dominion and began moving towards counting ballots by hand³.
While the California state-legislature recently passed AB 969 on voting systems that bans hand-counts in jurisdictions with more than 1,000 registered voters and passed SB 1131 that helps protect election official’s privacy⁴, MDM narratives about election officials and voting machines are likely to continue to proliferate through online and social media.
These MDM narratives will likely lead to an increase in threats to election officials and cause a further shortage in election workers. Such narratives could also spur new efforts to ban voting machines and inspire attempts to physically damage or destroy voting machines, similar to how MDM narratives about mail-in ballots led to attacks on ballot drop boxes both across the country and in California⁵. If unaddressed, these trends could potentially decrease California’s capacity to administer elections effectively.
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