Three instability indicators
What can we expect to happen?
Violence a concern
This includes cyberthreat, actors within the Post Office and the polling places. We are already aware of instances where mail-in and absentee ballots have been found in garbage dumps, rivers, etc.
Jackson gave the example of someone at a polling place in a recent election who was collecting the ballots of those who were registered with a party different than the leanings of the polling place. That person was telling the voters that he would submit the ballots but never did. The votes of that party did not get counted. This poll worker represents an insider threat.
Also, poll workers know that extraneous marks on a ballot will void the ballot. If a poll worker marks on your ballot, ask for a new ballot. If your ballot has a mark on it when you receive it, refuse it. In both cases, your vote will not count. It must be a clean ballot.
Regardless of who wins, the protests will be massive. We know that past protests are the best predictor of future behavior. Jackson restates this as, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and its antecedent.” Regarding protests turning violent, in examining past terrorism events, if the event did not achieve the desired outcome or was not successful, it is likely not to be repeated again.
The media becomes the mouthpiece for the the position you want to take. In this election they have tremendous power in influencing the outcome and potential protests and riots. This includes social media as well.
Quelling uprisings or rebellions
Whereas the President cannot enlist the active military in putting down a rebellion, the National Guard is not prohibited from putting down a rebellion. The states under the authority of the governor have the authority to activate the Guard against civil disturbances.
There needs to be an announced indication that the Guard will act if there is the threat of destruction of property, life, etc. This demonstrates consequences. This has already been used successfully in some of the cities experiencing riots which caused the riots to cease.
The more enthusiasm that builds towards a candidate in the election, the bigger the disappointment will be when they lose. “This leads to protests, protests lead to riots, riots lead to violence and violence leads to property damage.” Pre-election we expect activities in certain locations, probably in the same areas where we are already seeing problems. We will see outside groups coming into hotspot areas. They are bussed in and paid. The presence and announcement of security is the only deterrent.
There is fuel on both sides that is creating a tinder box in this year’s election which leads to the threat of more violence taking place after the election. “I’m not seeing tremendous destruction as a result of the election.” After the months of rioting, Governors will be more likely to put down riots before they get out of hand. Jackson stated, “We will see activity the day after the election, especially if it’s contested as it is expected to be. We are likely to see some riots and disruptions all the way to the inauguration… I don’t think it will get totally out of hand. There are controls now, and people are seeing these controls.” Whether you like them or not, you are seeing private security firms popping up at polling places.’
Jackson said that there is a government-based group that uses crowd size and enthusiasm to predict election outcomes. They have been 100% accurate in predicting elections based on crowd size and enthusiasm.
The presence of security has to be balanced with a non-threatening presence so people won’t be concerned about coming to the polls to vote, but there will be more security at certain polling places than in the past.
International terrorism is not viewed as being a threat to this election. ‘After three decades of working in counter-terrorism, terrorists do not like enhanced security.” There is going to be a security mindset around the election and a lot of security vigilance. This is not the environment that attracts international terrorism.
It’s a definition that has been all over the place. Some U.S. citizens could act for political purposes. There are groups classified as domestic terrorists that have the capability to carry out terror attacks, including mass casualty attacks. One concern according to Johnson is that there are many youth in our country who appear to be lost. They want to latch out and belong to something. It doesn’t matter what the cause is. This is a bad combination during potentially volatile times, especially when there is so much disruption resulting from the pandemic.
We have to protect our networks. They are easy to compromise. if it wasn’t easy we wouldn’t see so many attacks. Hundreds of thousands of cyber attacks occur every day. The countries who initiate the majority of cyber attacks are North Korea, Iran, China and Russia. You can protect against a certain amount of activity, but we don’t do a very good job. It is definitely a concern for this election.
Jackson summarized by saying, election instability and violence “is a very important topic and in my opinion, when I apply the ABC Method to elections, (antecedents, behaviors, consequences) pre during and post election- particularly after, you can’t predict how bad it will get, but there are controls in place, and they have been announced which does affect the severity of the reaction. We’ll see Molotov cocktails, looting and protests in the street. Regardless of the group, we will see activity.
Counter Threat Group advises vigilance leading up to and following the election:
- Keep in mind that an event that happens in one state can affect the reaction in another state.
- Individuals, businesses, healthcare facilities and shopping and eating venues need to develop contingency plans for workers and business disruption.
- Develop alternate routes of travel. You don’t want to be on a road or street where a major protest or riot is occurring.
- In downtown areas where protests and turmoil are likely, plan to close operations prior to dark.
- Depending on the business and location, consider hiring temporary private security.
- Have an updated communication plan with family and co-workers.
Photo Credit: Pexels, Sides Imagery