Charleston, W.Va. — Secretary of State Mac Warner is recognized nationally as a leader in election cybersecurity among state chief elections officials. With his 23-year military career, time in combat zones all over the world and international law experience, Secretary Warner understands the significance of foreign influence on American democracy. As a result of his work in elections cybersecurity, his work has been featured by national media outlets including NPR, CNN, New York Times, Fox News, HBO News and Snapchat.
Secretary Warner has been traveling the state educating and encouraging citizens, voters and high school students to be vigilant when it comes to information they see on social media. Today, Secretary Warner is pleased to announce that his presentation designed to educate the public about the very real threat of foreign influence on elections and public policy in the United States is now available to the public.
The presentation provides real-world examples of misinformation, disinformation and tactics used by foreign cyber actors to meddle in the U.S. elections. It also explores how foreign entities have used social media to create discord throughout the United States to undermine the foundations of our democratic government. Warner’s presentation summarizes information from federal investigations into election meddling from a variety of sources including the Mueller investigation, federal indictments and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Since the 2016 election cycle, Secretary Warner has closely followed the disinformation campaigns and misleading social media strategies implemented by foreign state-sponsored entities. He continues participation in a bipartisan election security think-tank called “Defending Digital Democracy” at Harvard University. He is also a founding member of the national Government Coordinating Council on Elections Infrastructure which works with DHS, elections officials and cybersecurity experts who design guidelines for protecting our elections.
“It has never been verified where any foreign entity has ever hacked any state or local elections system in the United States to successfully change a single vote. Not one,” Secretary Warner said.
“What these foreign actors have done is use America’s strengths, such as freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, against us. They’ve tried to turn us against one another along social fissures such as religion, race, ethnicity, citizenship, political affiliation, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. There are countless instances and indisputable evidence that they’re trying to incite radical positions and extremism in America,” Warner said.
“The Russian interference was not only directed at election systems, it was directed at attacking our voters’ minds. I am hopeful that our government, community and school leaders will take this presentation and share it with their members and students. The best way to defend against these attacks on our society is to learn the bad actors’ tactics and recognize attempts to undermine our democracy. This presentation is a simple first-step towards building that defense,” Warner said.
The presentation provides an easy-to-understand platform that can be used by high school teachers, scout leaders, political party officers, government officials and program directors for civic and community organizations. It provides sources to fact-check information posted online, and it encourages everyone to “think before you link.”
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