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Election Deniers Aren’t Waiting for November - Best News

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Election Deniers Aren’t Waiting for November

Since 2020, Donald Trump and his devotees have sown doubt over election results and spread dozens of election conspiracies. Some of these election deniers have become elected officials themselves, serving as governors and US senators. Others, like Mike Lindell, have spent millions of dollars in hopes of overturning the 2020 election.

On WIRED.com and in our new podcast, the WIRED Politics team reported that many of these election deniers on both the national and grassroots level have been training others to challenge voter rolls and overwhelm election officials even before polls open in November. And they’re using tech to do it.

Let’s get into it.


This is an edition of the WIRED Politics Lab newsletter. Sign up now to get it in your inbox every week.

Politics has never been stranger—or more online. WIRED Politics Lab is your guide through the vortex of extremism, conspiracies, and disinformation.

🗞️ Read previous newsletters here.🎧 Listen to the WIRED Politics Lab podcast.💬 Join the conversation below this article.


The Tech Supercharging Election Denialism

Election denial groups seem more prevalent and organized than ever. Since the midterms, one of these groups, True the Vote, has hosted webinars for activists to learn about challenging the election, my colleague David Gilbert reported earlier this week. The group is also relaunching a software called IV3 that provides anyone with the ability to review and challenge voter rolls in counties across all 50 states. The software works by comparing names on voter rolls to a US Postal Service database. Dhruv Mehrotra, my colleague on WIRED’s Security desk, investigated IV3 in 2022 and found that the tool was built on shoddy data—but that hasn’t stopped True the Vote from organizing “overbooked” webinar trainings on how to use it.

EagleAI NETwork is yet another company using tech to review voter rolls. As David reported, some voting rights groups have discouraged counties from using the software because it may remove eligible names for insignificant punctuation errors. Still, at least one Georgia county has said that it plans to use EagleAI this cycle.

And on Wednesday, my colleague Vittoria Elliott reported that some experts fear AI could be used to bombard election officials with bogus Freedom of Information Act requests, wasting their valuable time. Filing FOIA requests had already been part of the election denialist playbook before the recent commercialization of generative AI, with election officials working around the clock to satisfy requests. “I've had election officials telling me that in an office where there's one or two workers, they literally were satisfying public records requests from 9 to 5 every day, and then it's 5 o'clock and they would shift to their normal election duties,” says Tammy Patrick, CEO of the National Association of Election Officials.

And now, with the possible use of AI, experts are worried. Election officials are already overwhelmed by the use of AI in disinformation campaigns: “There's quite a bit of trepidation around how [AI] might be used in this environment and in this moment,” says Patrick. “To either dissuade voters from voting or confuse voters on what the voting options are, or further taint the civic discourse around what our elections really are.”

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(And, as I reported earlier this year, generative AI already started rocking the elections following a robocall impersonating Joe Biden that discouraged New Hampshire primary goers from voting.)

Using chatbots from OpenAI, Microsoft, and Meta, Vittoria created FOIA requests targeting battleground states. Things got a little strange when Microsoft’s Copilot randomly generated a request asking for information related to voter fraud during the 2020 election—even without the prompt specifying the year.

I feel so bad for these election workers. In states like Arizona, some election offices look more like military bases, surrounded by gates protected by security guards, David wrote in a new story for WIRED this morning. This is the result of years of threats toward election officials, largely due to the massive amounts of election-related misinformation and disinformation being spread. “As a result,” David writes, “election officials have resigned en masse. The loss of institutional knowledge, coupled with an unending wave of disinformation and misinformation, has made the job untenable.”

We’re already inundated with AI-generated content, like ads for fake products across social media. Now imagine trying to sort through all of that junk while on deadline and under threat. It’s exhausting, and it’s only the beginning of what the next seven months will bring.

The Chatroom

If you’re subscribed to this newsletter, then you’ve likely been following our coverage of how Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is using social media to reach voters. The campaign has dived in even further.

Recently, Biden toured many of the battleground states he’ll need to win in order to beat Trump. In some states, like Pennsylvania, he held rallies; in other states, he didn’t. But the one thing all his stops had in common? They were all backdrops for his campaign’s social media feeds. In Michigan, for example, Biden didn’t even hold a rally, and instead was seen in a TikTok video with a local pastor and his son.

The Biden campaign will likely reach more voters with that one TikTok video than with a rally. The content allows the team to showcase tender moments between the president and voters—interactions that have made him go viral in the past. But they also prevent slightly less scripted interactions and help shield Biden from questions on his age, as staffers publish videos that make him look more youthful and energetic. Like we discussed last week regarding influencers, this strategy gives the campaign more control over the narrative.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, or send me an email at mail@wired.com.

💬 Leave a comment below this article.

WIRED Reads

Elon Musk Is Platforming Far-Right Activists in Brazil, Defying Court Order: My colleague Vittoria Elliott reports that X has reactivated several far-right accounts flagged for removal by the Brazilian government, despite saying that the company’s content policies would always comply with local law. Some Brazilian activists say that these accounts have been pushing disinformation and election misinformation for years.A Breakthrough Online Privacy Proposal Hits Congress: For the last however many years, President Biden has promised to pass data privacy legislation. After being stalled for a very long time, Congress has its best shot at getting it done with this new bipartisan proposal.The Hacking Lawsuit Looming Over Truth Social: The girls are fighting. William Turton reports that a former executive who helped Truth Social go public is suing the CEO that replaced him for allegedly hacking him in a bid to take over the company.

Want more? Subscribe now for unlimited access to WIRED.

What Else We’re Reading

🔗 Arizona’s Senate Race Is a Battle Over the Nature of Reality: For New York, Olivia Nuzzi demystifies the parallel realities that Democrats and Republicans conjure up to describe the US-Mexico border and immigration, and how it could affect the election. (New York Magazine)

🔗 The House Dems Who Keep Using TikTok While Voting Against It: More than a dozen House Democrats who voted to ban TikTok last month are still using the app, despite its toxic reputation on Capitol Hill. (Politico)

🔗 I’m Still Trying to Generate an AI Asian Man and White Woman: This Mia Sato series for The Verge in which generative AI fails to create images of an Asian man and white woman may not fit squarely into our politics category, but it shows how often racist stereotypes influence these models’ outputs. (The Verge)

The Download

The WIRED Politics Lab podcast has officially landed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts!

Starting today, the WIRED Politics desk will be reporting straight into your ears via our show. This week, Leah Feiger, our editor and host, sits down with David and Vittoria to go even deeper on the election denial groups mobilizing their supporters and the threats that election workers face this year.

That’s it for today—thanks again for subscribing. You can get in touch with me at mail@wired.com, Instagram, X and Signal at makenakelly.32.

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