A Clear and Present Danger: and What To Do About It

In this week’s New Yorker, Jane Mayer covers a new body of research by scholars concluding that “in the 2016 election, Putin’s meddling was decisive.” As Mayer’s piece illustrates, the winner-take-all method of electing the president makes states where the presidential contest is closest into the most vulnerable targets of all for foreign manipulation. These same vulnerable states are also the most critical to victory in our current electoral model, given that the winner-take-all system is in use by 48 out of 50 states. The Russian social media attacks on candidates and disinformation campaigns, micro-targeting voters in order to sabotage outcomes in these critical states, were largely successful, according to the new research summarized by Mayer.

If every vote counted equally in every state, foreign adversaries would have a significantly more difficult time making an impact. That’s not to say it couldn’t happen, but we would not run the same risk of interference in only two to three states potentially altering an election.

We face a clear and present danger. But we don’t need a Jack Ryan to save us— we need the protection of a national popular vote that matters.