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AI has potential to disrupt 2024 election in Texas, other states

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Wednesday, January 31, 2024   

The rise of artificial intelligence is raising alarm bells for election officials across the country.

In Texas, Feb. 5 is the last day to register to vote in the March 5 primary election, and officials have noted the chaos that ensued ahead of New Hampshire's primary when a robocall imitating President Joe Biden's voice told them not to vote.

Rachel Orey, senior associate director of the elections project for the Bipartisan Policy Center, said while the incident like the one in New Hampshire might be isolated, AI could have other consequences.

"Our bigger concern is what's known as a liar's dividend," Orey explained. "Even when there are instances of generative AI being used to target voters with false information, they feed into this bigger risk that the presence of false information makes voters trust any information less."

Orey pointed out the past few years have seen a near constant assault on accurate voting information, which has made it challenging for good information to reach voters. She worries what happened in New Hampshire is a potential preview of what other voters could experience this year.

Orey noted AI could supercharge the misinformation campaigns that have existed for years, but election officials across the country have a leg up going into the 2024 vote.

"Election officials and voting advocates around the country are sort of well-prepared to mitigate and respond to increases in misinformation," Orey emphasized. "Because they spent the last couple of years flexing that muscle and learning how to respond to misinformation and election denial campaigns."

Orey urged election officials to have a plan ready to respond to AI misinformation campaigns, which might include contacting affected voters. She added right now, regulatory options do not exist to stop dishonest AI operations.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.



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