Desperate Trumpists might be a bit late to obstruct the polls, assuming that law enforcement actually does their constitutional duty. “…the most effective modern disinformation is defined by what scholars call “censorship through noise”—drowning out the truth with a barrage of lies, distortions, and conspiracy theories designed to confuse and exhaust.”
…the poll watchers’ real influence may not be felt until they go home and start uploading their videos. Three Democratic strategists who are involved in post-election “scenario planning” told me that—barring a blowout on Election Night—Americans should expect a last-ditch disinformation blitz from Trump and his allies to create the impression of wide-scale cheating. (The Democrats requested anonymity to candidly describe strategy discussions.)
“This Election Day poll-watching will be part of a whole campaign to dispute, delay, and bring into doubt the counts in various states,” one Democrat told me. “[Trump] has been setting up the rigged-election narrative for a while,” another told me, “and he needs tools to show that the votes that are rolling in are probably these rigged votes: So here’s the video evidence!”
Some of the Democratic hand-wringing had a slightly panicked, paranoid quality, rooted in the trauma of 2016. “Will there be photos and videos purporting to be, for instance, Chinese intelligence agents stuffing ballot boxes?” one Democrat mused. “Probably, yes. And even if the quality of these videos is poor and the provenance is suspect, they will have at least some audience.”Of course, Trump could simply win or lose the race outright, without any of the drama that many are anticipating. But it’s not far-fetched to expect a spike in unsubstantiated voter-fraud claims around Election Day. Such rumors often gain traction in the final days of a presidential race—and Trump and his media allies have been especially invested in amplifying them this year.
Nate Snyder, who served as a counterterrorism official at the Department of Homeland Security under Barack Obama, told me that if Trump contests the election results, things could quickly “converge into a perfect storm of disinformation.” In the already-overheated political environment, foreign adversaries could circulate conspiracy theories online, while domestic trolls and extremist groups amplify their own toxic messages. Chaos would be the goal—and Snyder says United States intelligence agencies are preparing for it.
Pro-Trump poll-watchers are set to fan out across battleground states in the coming days—smartphones in hand—to hunt for evidence of voter fraud. Brace for a blizzard of misleading, out-of-context videos.
My final story before the election: https://t.co/PeJ1MvLXye
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 31, 2020
This is a huge country, so there are always a lot of incidents. It's a heavily armed country too, so incidents are more likely to lead to life-threatening harm. But it's also true that the Trump campaign valorizes violence unlike any other since the George Wallace campaigns.
— David Frum (@davidfrum) November 2, 2020
Trump's party created his legal premise. 👇
MI, WI & PA legislatures (GOP) refused rule changes allowing a historic # of mail-in ballots to be counted early, which of course is necessary to complete by COB Nov. 3.
It's by design. https://t.co/odPYoGixYZ
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiNBC) November 2, 2020
This would be like Coach Pederson telling confidants that he will declare victory at halftime tonight if the @Eagles are “ahead” over the Cowboys.
That’s not how it works and it’s not up to him. https://t.co/8NHSJxfj8g
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 1, 2020
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 2, 2020
For many who are worried about potential COVID-19 exposure while voting in person, we reached out to New York City ER doctor Dara Kass, to address your concerns and her advice on how to vote safely. https://t.co/1rNXz9SH1r
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) November 2, 2020
Meanwhile, Kremlin-controlled Russian state media looks upon the prospect of rising election violence in the United States with eager anticipation:
"There will be blood."
"We're desperately trying not to gloat, but it's hard not to." pic.twitter.com/OPvY5HtQNp
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) November 1, 2020