Election day scenarios—experts weigh in on dangers to our democracy

In an election threatened by a pandemic, misinformation and foreign and domestic threats comes new and unsettling questions that our nation may have never thought we’d have to ask.

Washington Correspondent Blair Miller took our questions to the experts.

Miller spoke with three of the nation’s top security experts, including former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

“We are entering a period of increased domestic terrorism, and I think there are some people who, because they’ve convinced themselves that somehow the election is rigged, may try to interfere with the voting and the process,” Chertoff said. “They may show up and try and be intimidating, but it’s not just a privilege, it is a civic responsibility to go to the polls and cast your vote."

Betsy Cooper, Director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, which looks at policy and cybersecurity, said voters shouldn’t expect to know a winner Tuesday night

“I think it’s not very likely that we will know the full results of the election on the night of the election,” she said. “Just go back to Bush v. Gore, when you know it was called for one candidate, then called for the other candidate. It went back and forth a few times."

Cooper said people need to be prepared for a certain level of litigation. Whether it gets all the way up to the highest court is a separate question.

“I don’t believe we’re going leave on election night with one party conceding to the other as might have happened in the past,” said Cooper.

Chris Painter is a former cyber diplomat who worked at the White House as Director for Cyber Policy.

"One thing that really worries me is creating the perception of interference, but no interference has actually happened,” said Painter. “One possible form (of interference) is you see lots of social media, lots of other media reports but it’s supposedly done by hackers in a particular country saying they have hacked into the voting system when it turns out that didn’t happen,” he said.

Painter believes that could lead to chaos across the world.

“There’s lots of possibilities but I hope we have a very smooth election. I think we all do,” said Painter.