Dispatch, Explainers, Reports September 4, 2019

Democratic Resilience: Lessons Learned for Securing Future Elections

While the Trump administration itself appears unlikely to fight foreign interference, there are multiple stakeholders who have agency and can either contribute to, or curb, the impact of a foreign influence operation. These include voters; the press; political parties and candidates; and law enforcement and career government officials.

America is also not the only target for Russian influence operations; democracies in Europe and around the world are combating Russian election interference. Some of these countries have dealt with this interference better than others, and there are important lessons to be derived from these experiences. With these factors in mind, this report outlines Russian election influence operations and evaluates the responses from stakeholders. It determines the lessons the United States can learn from these democracies, including what works and what does not when confronting Russian interference.

There is no single formula for protecting democratic processes, nor is there a way to provide 100 percent guaranteed protection. However, based on this report’s review of how other democracies have confronted Russian interference, it is clear that any successful strategy must be multifaceted and include a combination of a forceful government response, an alert and educated public, a trusted media, paper ballots, and efforts to monitor and combat illicit financial flows.