NJ Homeland Security warns of possible threats to, and after election
With the presidential election fast approaching, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has released a report on potential threats to the election process -- as well as tumult that could follow after Nov. 3.
According to Jared Maples, the director of the NJOHSP, “numerous threats from domestic extremists and foreign adversaries have emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-government sentiment, nationwide civil unrest, and various forms of disinformation. These threats will begin to converge with the presidential election in November in a manner not previously experienced by our nation.”
He said there has been an extremely high level of misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19, law enforcement and the election over the past few months.
“We use the word unprecedented, it’s something that’s probably used far too often, but in this case the threats and what we’re seeing from a landscape perspective is unprecedented to the point where we felt the need to release this report,” he said.
Maples said the analysis puts forth three election scenarios and possible outcomes.
“It’s apolitical in product,” he said. “It’s about security of our citizens and making sure that New Jersey can get through this together.”
Maples said the first Presidential election scenario in the report has the election decided on or near Nov. 3, with limited nationwide protests. There could be organized demonstrations with the possibility of lone offender attacks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, the report says.
It also says “anti-government and anarchist extremists seek to exploit the election but continue to focus on conducting violent protests against perceived police brutality."
"Nation-state threat actors continue to utilize online platforms to interfere in U.S. domestic politics after the election," it says.
Under the second scenario, election results could take several months to certify because of legal wrangling, with “nation-state actors from foreign countries getting involved and trying to throw in that misinformation, disinformation.”
The report finds under this scenario it would also be possible that lone offenders could attack gatherings, or law enforcement. It says extremists could scapegoat minorities and government officials, saying they'd rigged the elections. Supporters would attend more demonstrations and get more active online.
Possible outcomes could include “several states become a destination for various groups to converge and conduct violent protests, and deadly confrontations and civil unrest occur among protesters, requiring state and federal law enforcement to intervene," according to the report.
Under the third possible scenario presented in the report, election lawsuits would necessitate a Supreme Court decision that could drag on for months. Lone offenders incited by conspiracy theories might threaten or target federal officials, government institutions, the judicial system and judges they "perceive as their enemies," according to the report.
Possible outcomes of this scenario could include “threats against the judicial system (that) persist in 2021, and protesters remain committed to conducting rallies outside the Supreme Court, resulting in violence.”
Maples said the report is about being as factual and transparent as possible.
‘It isn’t to scare people. These are realistic things a lot of people are talking about," he said. "We have foreign adversaries, we have domestic extremist actors that are trying to exploit disinformation and misinformation as it relates to the election.”
He stressed the idea of the report is to help educate the public, expose misinformation and disinformation “and really show what the potential scenarios and outcomes could be."
"This is a forecasting model" he said. "ITt’s something we feel is important to the public order, to public security.”
Maples said the report is also meant to let the people of New Jersey know we have a system in place to secure the election.
“It’s a good system,” he said, “it’s something we believe in deeply and we’re going to get through this together, but people have to be on the same page in understanding what the scenarios are and how we’re going to overcome them as a country.”