It is becoming increasingly more probable by the day that no clear, uncontested victor will be chosen on election day, November third, twenty-twenty. One of the cornerstones of American strength has been the peaceful transition of power in a presidential election. Even in the most peaceful elections, however, America has been hyper-vigilant about changes on the global stage, and so much focus right now is looking internally allowing foreign adversaries to somewhat run amok. When other countries sense confusion, a power vacuum, or even uncertain American leadership or policy shifts, they are more apt to carry out land grabs, power grabs, or other nefarious plans in their self-interest while American foreign policy is on hold or the American focus of attention is distracted by internal strife. We don’t have to look outside the United States to find the chaos that is highly probable on our election day and in the weeks that follow. Enemies afar and enemies near are emboldened by our country’s division. Fires could be lit as far away as internationally or as near as at your local polling location. In this blog, we will explore the possibilities of election day turmoil ranging from global threats to domestic threats.
Expect our enemies and countries with self-serving motivations to act up while our attention is completely focused within. Ethnic cleansing by Erdoğan; attacks on people by Bashar al-Assad; Putin’s plan to join Belarus and Russia into one country; Kim Jung Il further testing nuclear or missile technology but on live targets; Israel’s efforts to keep Iran from becoming a nuclear power, even China’s seventeen territorial disputes with its neighbors, on land and sea, are all fronts we could see dramatic actions on in the coming weeks. It’s not just election day but the possible weeks afterward if the election is contested where it needs to be sorted out.
Foreign adversaries and allies with self-serving interests are watching America closely for the opportunity to act on their plans, and those are just a few of the countries and possibilities. American strength has always been a factor in the united threat we present when other countries engage in activities that are inhumane, in violation of international laws and norms, or against our global vision for the world. Picture it like a mother or father watching over the play of children. The children are more likely to behave under watchful eyes. When there is a fire in the kitchen, though, and mom or dad needs to be inside, and the children are left alone, how much more likely are they to act upon their impulses and desires when the threat of getting in trouble is gone? There’s an old saying, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play.”
America’s ability to decisively and swiftly respond to keep global peace is significantly hampered if the highest office in the land is in question. In every election, you can find an article where the incumbent president commits to a peaceful transition of power, Obama to Trump, Bush to Obama, Clinton to Bush, and so on. This is a signal to the rest of the world that America remains vigilant. While some might be inclined to let these dramas on the world stage play out while we take care of our own. This approach is the same as ignoring the fire altogether. The fires get larger. Our enemies become more emboldened. The conflicts become greater and America’s chances of getting consumed by a future global conflict become more probable. With each conflict we let play out on its own without our input, the more control of the global stage we scede to leaders who don’t share our vision of the world nor our values. In short, America, because of her position in the world as a global superpower, cannot sit idly by while the world burns and we sort things out. As a global leader, our attention and watchful eye needs to continually monitor and always be ready to intercede.
When presidential leadership is uncertain, however, our ability to intercede in world conflicts is greatly diminished. Any action by a president holding office in a transitional period with some question about it would be hard-pressed to make a case for action to Congress or the American people. Any case to engage in a foreign conflict would be seen as self-serving and that president’s blatant attempt at shifting the focus from election results. Bad actors on the world’s stage know this and are emboldened by our country’s division, knowing it would take us longer than normal to offer any dissent to their actions or to retaliate in any meaningful way.
What do you think? Should America’s role be to intercede and get involved in problems around the world?
Beyond actions like land grabs and attacks on civilian populations in an effort to strengthen a specific nation’s agenda, direct foreign interference in our election process can directly impact your everyday life. Already, a preponderance of evidence exists presented by multiple intelligence agencies, that Russia, China, and Iran are all directly meddling in the United States election process. Disinformation campaigns are only part of it all. The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) jointly warned on October twenty-second that Russian hackers had penetrated some state and local government networks. These attacks add tinder to the theory that the election process in some way is questionable, and that election results may not be valid. Even if foreign actors fail in their attempts to access or tamper with voting systems and election data, the threat is much larger. Foreign actors could amplify doubts about the election’s integrity and even provide fodder to those who seek to sow suspicion of its outcome. The process to determine a victor could be delayed, confused, or contested.
Foreign actors could seek to exploit post-election outrage by provoking violence or by attacking critical infrastructure systems. What would be the outcome if while counting ballots, the electrical infrastructure is attacked and knocked offline? Beyond cyber-attacks, how devastating would be an explosion or incendiary device even of small yield in or near a polling location? It’s not just foreign governments and leaders, either. The very real threat of terrorist attacks hasn’t just vanished this century; but if federal forces have to focus entirely within, intelligence chatter may be overlooked. We are more vulnerable. In the aftermath of election day, as Americans point a finger of blame at other Americans about any violence that erupts, our enemies continue their assault on our other systems laughing at how easily they turned us upon each other.
Foreign interference can be both cyber and physical, by nation-states, or state-sponsored. Force Protection Condition (FPCON) levels are currently at Bravo. That’s the highest level they can be at before an incident actually occurs or intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action or targeting against personnel or facilities is likely. The threat of foreign provocateurs is constant, and it only increases during an election period.
What do you think? Could foreign provocateurs try to interfere with our elections directly?
As we have seen in recent years, there are many conspiratorial theories and ideas driving the motivations and actions of some not so stable people. From shootings to explosions, from planned and coordinated attacks and kidnappings to seemingly random acts of violence, the news is continually filled with headline after headline. Add to this the fact that every single incident that occurs has some counterfactual information presented claiming the incident never occurred at all or was a false flag, and it is easy to see how someone who may be mentally unstable can assemble their own wide-sweeping theories that could lead them to do harm.
A delusional mind can find what it perceives as facts and build its own narrative to support further and deeper delusions. The internet is an abundant and fertile source. It’s an amplifier and echo chamber for every crazy idea put into it. A, technically, loony person could cause violence and jeopardize a polling location. They could carry out harmful attacks and leave everyone pointing the finger of blame at each other. However, not all would-be attackers can be dismissed as crazy nowadays.
There are active fringe groups in our society on the right, left, and not politically affiliated at all who all share a common goal of dismantling and destroying our government. Any one individual or group could easily spark wide-scale violence and threaten the safety of peaceful citizens. These fringe groups are often without a central locus and without a central philosophy. A loose grouping of manifestos and a dark web message board may be the only real connections between someone in your neighborhood and someone planning an attack several states away. The threat remains real and credible and would be even more exaggerated and impactful during a period of a contested election.
Are you concerned about potential domestic actors on election day?
What Should You Do?
With the potential of global conflicts increased, with the threat of foreign interference, with both foreign and domestic agent provocateurs, is there anything you can do to increase your safety on election day and in the weeks that follow? This is where prepping and the prepper’s mindset right now can benefit you when the crisis is upon you. First, know your polling locations. If you voted early, avoid them. If you are going to them, be early and remain hyper-vigilant. Watch for any unusual activities and report it immediately to authorities. While not all states ban guns near polling locations, nearly all states ban the carrying of firearms in schools and government buildings, where many polling places are located. That being said, know your varying routes to and from your polling location.
The same awareness you had after nine-eleven is the same type of awareness you should have when you go to vote. If you see a suspicious package or an abandoned backpack, report it. If you see someone acting erratically, bring it to someone else’s attention in line and get their opinion on it. Sometimes it’s hard for us to make that call, but a trained off duty cop or veteran can tell you within a few seconds if someone is likely carrying a concealed weapon or acting in an erratic manner. A trained eye can tell by the way a person walks if they have an unholstered weapon on them. That trained extra set of eyes might just be that person in front or behind you in line.
If violence erupts anywhere in the country, don’t rush to a conclusion before all of the facts are in. A good deal of finger-pointing will be going on, but you should try to keep a level head and stay above the fray. Any incident, even those that look very specific in nature, could be an extended operation by a foreign agent or government. Foreign trolls and bots will capitalize upon any incident and create further suspicion and conspiracy theories. Know that this will happen.
Second, know where your family is on election day. Don’t get caught in a situation where you don’t know where your wife, husband, daughter, son, mother, or brother is when something happens. If you are spending your time searching for them and cellular service is offline, you will not be able to go to the third thing you must do, which is to lockdown. Violence is often centralized and then can lead to more chaotic outbursts in more populous areas. Rioters are often more opportunistic than ideologically driven. Vigilante groups are often apt to profile individuals. The best place you can be is hunkered down, at least until any violence has subsided.
In the hours, days, and weeks following election day, there may be a lot of discontentment expressed, shouting in the streets and stores, and the like. Sadly, this has become more of a norm in the last few years. Just be aware if the conflict appears to be escalating. Know your safe routes to your safe home.
Fourth, prepare a bug-out, grab-and-go emergency bag, and keep it handy. If you are kept from the safety of your home following an incident for an extended period of time, make sure you have any medicines you may need. Have a bottle of water or two, maybe a high-calorie protein drink, and some energy bars. You can leave the bag in the trunk of your car or carry it with you, but keep it handy until you are certain that any election period threats have passed.
Finally, review your home’s preparations and security. There are several videos on this channel that will help you form your own checklist of supplies. Any cyberthreat that attacks critical infrastructure could leave thousands or millions without water or power. A desperate population will act desperately. Do not be caught up in the chaos. Prepare now for the possibility of attacks on election day and in the weeks that follow. Any incident in the current climate could have exponential ripples across the country. Even if your community seems relaxed and peaceful, be cautious, and remain aware of any increasing threats or abnormalities.
Hopefully, this election will run smoothly, a clear winner will be determined, a peaceful transition or maintaining of power will occur, and we will be able to close the chapter on twenty-twenty without further problems. Hopefully, the threat of America’s unified force will keep bad actors and bad nation’s on the world’s stage in check and fearful of our nation’s repercussions. If that doesn’t happen though, and something does occur, fall back on your survival instincts, stay low, and protect yourself and your loved ones. Make sure your supplies are sufficient to sustain you for several weeks if you have to remain largely indoors.
We would love to hear what your election day plans are and what you think will happen on election day and in the weeks after. As we said, our hope is that we see nothing but a boring day; however, we have more than a few indications, and history kind of shows us that it could easily go the other way.
As always, stay safe out there.