On October 9, GU Politics hosted former Secretaries of Homeland Security, the Honorable Michael Chertoff and the Honorable Jeh Johnson, for a panel on upholding election integrity. This conversation was moderated by GU Politics Executive Director Mo Elleithee.
Both Secretaries recognized how the nature of the American electoral system can allow bad actors to disrupt our election by targeting specific states. Secretary Johnson noted how the Electoral College and state-based election systems mean “a national election result can be altered by upsetting the voting in just a few key precincts.” In addition to foreign actors infiltrating local voting systems, Secretary Chertoff said domestically-generated misinformation is also a huge threat to our elections. Because American politicians are creating disinformation, “all the Russians do is sit back, watch, […] and amplify” inflammatory conspiracy theories.
Despite their concerns about threats to election integrity, both Secretaries expressed a positive outlook for the future of U.S. elections. Secretary Johnson believed we will eventually be able to deter foreign actors from interfering in our elections, but also noted that “the public has to accept some responsibility for discerning the junk they consume.” Secretary Chertoff concurred and stressed the importance of improving our education system so that voters are informed and can recognize what is fake and what is real.