U.S. officials fear adversaries might weaponize public fears about coronavirus ahead of Super Tuesday to spread disinformation, amplify rumors and tamp down voter turnout.
The concern comes as people test positive for the virus in numerous states, including California, Texas and Alabama – which are among the 14 states that will hold their Democratic primaries Tuesday.
The virus, which has killed nearly 3,000 people worldwide, could offer a near-perfect test case for how operatives from Russia or elsewhere seeking to undermine confidence in the election could boost public fears to stop people from heading to the polls – maybe enough to swing a tight race or at least raise doubts in the results.
It’s “one of a number of scenarios” of potential interference federal officials are monitoring, the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity division chief Chris Krebs told Kevin Collier at NBC News. Krebs’s office declined to comment this weekend when I asked for more information about the possible response.