Harvard’s Belfer Center Releases Playbook to Address Nefarious Election Influence
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Election officials across the country have a new tool to help them recognize and respond to malicious interference in the votes they oversee.
Created by the Belfer Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the new “Election Influence Operations Playbook” focuses on the most common types of disinformation attacks that have been found to interfere with the election process, and equips election officials with recommendations on how to counter them.
The multi-part Playbook, written by members of the centers “Defending Digital Democracy Project, offers an introduction to election influence operations: what they are, how they work, and why they can impact our elections.
It also includes recommendations for reporting, responding, and countering mis/disinformation incidents.
“In this era of attacks on democracy, your preparations, your response, and your voice as a trusted source within your jurisdiction, in coordination with other officials across your state, will strengthen your ability to effectively counter these threats,” the authors write.
The Playbook can also be a resource for those who can help officials get correct information to voters, they said.
For election officials, any incorrect information presented to voters, regardless of the source or intention, can pose a threat because it undermines understanding and trust in the election. Modern influence operations typically attack the democratic process online and can spread quickly. The most effective responses are swift, simple, and clear.
But the authors note influence operations are an evolving threat and there is no concrete solution to counter all of them.
They stress that recommendations in the Playbook need to be adapted for each jurisdiction’s needs and as those tactics evolve.
“Knowing what to look out for, how to prepare, and how to respond is a starting point for officials and those involved in the democratic process,” they write. “The recommendations shared throughout the Playbook are informed by what we know today with an understanding that we will continue to learn more about the best strategies and tools to bolster our ability to counter these threats.”
In The News
WASHINGTON — More than ever, Eric Harris is mindful of the elected officials around him: The school board members deciding whether his children will go back to the classroom, the sheriff influencing how officers interact with people like him, and the U.S. president steering the country’s... Read More
WASHINGTON — Dave and Diane Schell, a retired social studies teacher and a retired human resources professional from South Windsor, Connecticut, left their careers in 2015, and have worked the polls at their local precinct every election since. But not this November. The Schells — he’s... Read More
ATLANTA — Fierce battles over which votes count are already being fought in courts this election season, with armies of voting rights advocates, political parties and attorneys gearing up to bring more challenges to Georgia election laws when ballots are cast. The most significant court intervention... Read More
WASHINGTON — The controversial new chief of the U.S. Postal Service had not even started his job when a disturbing thing happened to hundreds of thousands of Americans who cast ballots by mail in primary elections this spring. Their votes were never counted. The torrent of... Read More
WASHINGTON — When the pandemic hit and more than a thousand usual poll workers backed out of working the April primary in Madison, Wisconsin, City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl needed replacements who were available to work late, had customer service skills and knew how to assess a... Read More
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohioans stake the names of their preferred candidates in the November election outside their homes, a new form of activism is showing up alongside the traditional candidate yard signs. Absentee ballot requests, voter registration forms and other nonpartisan information about how to... Read More