ArticleMonday October 26
Tracking recent election news one of the more alarming events was the acknowledgement by intelligence officials of Russian and Iranian meddling in the 2020 elections. While this announcement was probably no surprise to anyone, for me I was interested in Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe’s actual statement on October 21, 2020 (see link below). Mr. Ratcliffe noted several times that our election system and infrastructure is resilient. To be more exact, he used the word resilience once and resilient twice. Why does this matter? It matters greatly…so long as the word was used to signify the purest definitions of resilience: The predictable provision of essential infrastructure, capabilities, and services through a wide range of changing circumstances, anticipated and unanticipated.[i]
Accordingly, I am not in a place to question whether all 50 election systems/infrastructures are resilient. I’m not even in a place to question whether these threats were anticipated or unanticipated. I am however in a place to ask the questions to validate the resiliency of those systems/infrastructures. What are the threats to those systems/infrastructures? What are the known vulnerabilities to those systems/infrastructures? What are the consequences if those systems/infrastructures are disrupted? Obviously if you are following the bouncing ball I am asking risk-related questions. But there’s more…as a critical function of every state there must be a full accounting for every process involved in casting a vote; further, every process must be scored in accordance with its relative impact in order to prioritize limited resources to rectify. With my Political Science education, I wonder how any function in our electoral systems/infrastructure would not warrant full resource applications. I wonder how our republic could possibly withstand foreign meddling without the full attention of every state’s Attorney Generals/Secretary’s of State and others in securing the entirety of their respective election systems/infrastructures. The problem is complex, but it is most definitely NOT complicated.
As the old adage goes, “elections have consequences.” I suggest a more contemporary adaptation to the adage that “non-resilient elections destroy republics.” If our republic cannot continue to lead the world with resiliency in our elections, who will?
[i] Copyright definition adapted by permission of Mr. Jeff Gaynor, the nation’s resilience policy and program thought leader and experienced resilience practitioner in both public and private entities worldwide.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn.