As the 2018 midterm elections near, many fear even more meddling from the Russians. While details about the interference in the 2016 elections remain sketchy, lawmakers are looking to 2018 as a proving grounds, of sorts, for what might be in store for the next presidential election in 2020. What could that look like?
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) is spearheading the House Intelligence Committee’s current investigation. He spoke with Axios and outlined his fears. Conaway says he fears Vladimir Putin might “test some things” in the 2018 midterm elections.
While a test in the midterm elections might have some obvious consequences, the real prize is the chaos that could result from a wrecked election.
Putin, Conaway claims, might use 2018 elections to test procedures he “would want to fully develop and blow out in a bigger way… in the presidential [election] in 2020.”
Axios writes, “Conaway, previewing the Republicans’ coming findings and recommendations during an interview in his Capitol Hill office, said that given the Russians used a nerve agent in Britain and penetrated the U.S. power grid, he doesn’t ‘put anything past this guy [Putin].'”
“As an example,” Conaway noted, “if they got into the voter registration data and planted a cyber bomb to go off at 7 a.m. on Election Day, they’d scramble that information.”
A “cyber bomb,” as Conaway is envisioning it, would wreck the system by destroying information. The Russians wouldn’t have to hand-pick their own candidate, simply erode American confidence. By erasing information, and preventing Americans from being able to vote, the election results would be useless.
“So when the people went to the polls to vote, it’s like, ‘Whoop. No, you’re not registered. We don’t have your name.’ Well, think of the chaos that would create at a point where it would be really difficult to reset it, to not having it.”
So how would The House Intelligence Committee combat this? If Conaway expects to see this type of interference this year, what is being done to stop it?
We may know soon. The committee will release their findings in the Russia investigation on Thursday. At that point, they are also expected to release their recommendations.