Menu Home | Endorsements | Sign Up | Donate

Fighting back against fake news and disinformation

How do we know the news is real?

In the era of “fake news,” with Russian bots and disinformation on social media sowing confusion and conflict, this question has become vitally important. The Secretary of State oversees Oregon elections. Combating disinformation is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

In 2018, two large internet-based disinformation campaigns threatened the voting process in Oregon. The first claimed that vote-by-mail ballots were being prematurely counted in Eastern Oregon. They weren’t. The second falsely asserted that days before the deadline, it was too late to mail-in ballots. Thousands of Oregonians were confused and misled. The Secretary of State’s office had little capacity to get the truth out.

We have to fight back.

Policy proposals are at the heart of my campaign and increasing voter access — from ranked-choice voting to same-day voter registration — is central to my vision of how the Oregon Secretary of State should serve Oregon. Disinformation is a direct threat to our democracy because voters need access to the truth to make informed choices. We need a plan to combat disinformation.

Here is how I would do it.

Fighting Back Against Disinformation

Following the 2016 elections, Americans began to recognize fake news as a threat. Bad-faith actors use fake news to confuse voters and foment discord. Fake news is a major contributor to the seemingly intractable political and cultural divide in Oregon and across the United States.

Oregon can create a national model and the Secretary of State’s office has the established history of independence and accountability to lead such an effort.

We must protect our elections.

My Proposal:

The Secretary of State’s office can be a leader in fact-checking information on voting and elections on the internet. As Secretary of State, I would create an Office of Elections Cybersecurity. It would be a nonpartisan team within the Elections Division that would monitor websites and social media posts for false election information. The team would work closely with local elections officials, social media companies, and the news media to ensure voters receive accurate information. We must ensure that social media companies are on notice that Oregon will not tolerate disinformation campaigns targeting our citizens.

I would also build upon the Secretary of State’s Civics Toolkit, an Oregon-centric guide that targets high school and college students. It covers everything from the history of voting in Oregon to what you need to know before you vote. Oregon encourages 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, so it is critical that we provide them with the tools to distinguish the truth from the disinformation that is flooding the internet. The Secretary of State’s office should partner with schools to improve voter literacy and participation.

Oregonians value independent thought and the ability to make their own decisions. There must be no bias in determining what constitutes fake news. As such, I would enact all these proposals on a purely bipartisan basis.

As Secretary of State, I pledge to protect Oregonians from online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of our elections.

Connect with Mark