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The U.S. is approaching a big midterm election, but unlike almost every other major election in the country’s history, this one has a new and worrying shadow hanging over it: foreign interference.

The threat of cyber attacks and fake news from foreign actors may have already changed American elections for good, according to a panel of experts at the 2018 GeekWire Summit.

“Once you’ve sown that doubt, you don’t really have to do anything,” said journalist Ina Fried. “No matter what happens in 2018 … inevitably somebody is going to think there was foul play even if there was not.”

Fried, the chief technology correspondent for Axios, discussed the issue on stage at the GeekWire Summit alongside Emilian Papadopoulos, the president of Good Harbor, and Laura Rosenberger, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Papadopoulos and Rosenberger agreed that the U.S. hasn’t responded well to attacks carried out by Russian agents during the 2016 election, ranging from fake news spread on social media to actual cyber attacks on election systems.

“It’s stunning to witness an attack on our country to which we have responded not by coming together, but by tearing ourselves apart,” Rosenberger said.

Watch the panel’s full discussion on the topic in the video above and check out all of the coverage from this year’s annual GeekWire Summit.

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