Election Interference: A Unique Harm Requiring Unique Solutions
Defending Democracies: Combating Foreign Election Interference in a Digital Age (Oxford University Press, 2021)
27 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2018 Last revised: 6 Aug 2021
Date Written: November 1, 2018
Foreign interference is a violation of the membership rules for political decision-making, that is, the idea that only members of a polity should participate in elections. Outsiders are free to express their opinions, but covertly representing themselves as insiders constitutes a violation of these political norms, which are constitutive of the notion of self-determination. The first section of the chapter briefly describes and analyzes Russia’s interference in the 2016 and 2018 U.S. elections. The second section focuses on the existing legal debate over election interference and why the existing literature has failed to capture its distinctive harm. Then, the third section outlines this harm as a violation of the membership rules for the election process, especially when outsiders masquerade as insiders in order to influence an election. The fourth section concludes that governments must ensure transparency in the deliberative process by exposing covert election interference in real time before the election is over. The fifth section addresses objections to this account.
Keywords: election interference, sovereignty, self-determination, transparency, Twitter, social media
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