Published: June 29, 2021

Defending Democracy: The Road to Cyber Global Governance in Safeguarding Elections

By Kiana Harkema


Since Russian interference into the 2016 United States Presidential Election, the need for stronger safeguards against cyberattacks upon elections has never been more apparent. Cyberattacks transcend national borders and require international cooperation if effective deterrence measures are to be established - this means establishing acceptable and unacceptable behavior in cyberspace. While progress had been made in this endeavor, it is unclear whether nations are successful in translating the normative values they hold domestically to an international framework. My research investigates the cybersecurity practices the United States exercises, in safeguarding its election infrastructure, to understand what norms the United States internalizes and how influential those norms have been internationally. The United States has been a vocal actor in the norms-formulation process, as well as one that has participated in a variety of ways thus making it an informative case study. By analyzing the extent to which the United States is successful in promoting its domestic normative values on the international stage, it may be possible to not only better understand the process of cyber norms development, but also understand where the future of cyber global governance is headed.