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RECAP: Artificial Intelligence & Elections

Staff | Published on 12/1/2023

Another highly attended Hot Topics!

Artificial Intelligence and Elections
The Good, the Bad, the Reality

AI poses a threat to the 2024 elections by creating and spreading false or misleading information that can manipulate voters, damage candidates’ reputations, and undermine trust in democracy. It also poses a threat to the security and integrity of the electoral process by launching cyberattacks on election infrastructure or interfering with voter education and participation. To prevent or mitigate these threats, it is important for voters, politicians, platforms, and regulators to be aware of the benefits and risks of AI in elections, and to take appropriate measures to ensure its ethical and responsible use.

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Julie Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, two of Florida’s largest daily newspapers. She was named editor of both papers in 2018. Anderson led the Sun Sentinel to win a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2019 for its investigation into the Parkland school shooting that took 17 lives. Both newspapers have won dozens of journalism awards for their local news reporting.

Anderson joined the Orlando Sentinel 33 years ago as a copy editor. The company’s early interest in the internet pulled her into a whole new arena, and she spent much of her career teaching newsrooms how to publish 24/7 on the internet. Julie grew up in Orlando and is a UCF graduate.

Bill Cowles has been an integral part of the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office since 1989, after serving thirteen years on the staff of the Central Florida Council, Boy Scouts of America. He was elected as the Orange County Supervisor of Elections in 1996 and has been re-elected in every election since. Bill supervises the fifth-largest county elections office in the state of Florida.

Bill served on the Federal Elections Assistance Commission Board of Advisors from 2007 to 2011. His other professional involvements include being past president of the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, as well as past president of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers.

Bill graduated in 1976 with a degree in Public Administration from the University of Central Florida. Not only is Bill busy with his professional associations, he is also very active in his church and community. He is an elder at Quest Church (formerly St. Paul's Presbyterian Church), a board member of the Central Florida Council (Boy Scouts of America), a member of the UCF Public Administration Advisory Board, and a member and past president of the Kiwanis Club of North Orlando.

Bill has been married since 1978 to Cheryl and has two married sons and four grandsons.

Kevin Aslett is an Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida in the School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs and the Cybersecurity and Privacy Research Cluster. He is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University and a Fellow at the Political Economy Forum at the University of Washington. His research broadly focuses on the threats digital technology pose to liberal democracy (specifically online misinformation) and policies designed to mitigate these threats. In addition, he has developed new methods in the field of political communication that remove obstacles to extracting information from enormous collections of electronic text and images that users encounter online. You can track his code and find replication files on Github. He has published nine articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Science AdvancesJournal of Experimental Political Science, and Policy Studies Journaland in popular outlets such as the Washington Post. He also serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Online Trust and Safety run by the Stanford Internet Observatory.

Ybeth Bruzual has been with Spectrum News 13 since June 1998, working her way from an assignment editor, to a Spanish language news reporter/anchor, to her current position as the face of Your Morning News.

Ybeth is passionate about being able to provide people with news 24 hours a day, telling viewers about what is happening right away and going beyond the headlines.

The University of Central Florida graduate loves informing people about new things in the community — and knowing that maybe they’ll even walk away knowing something new. Great storytelling is important to her, since thoughtful content shows that Spectrum News 13 cares. Ybeth has been in Central Florida since 1981, when her mother moved from Puerto Rico to Orlando. The avid cyclist is a native Spanish-speaker and learned English when she came to Orlando.

Ybeth is a respected journalist and was honored as one of Orlando’s Women of the Year 2019. A two-time Emmy winner, Ybeth earned her first Emmy in 2016 for her coverage of the Orlando United Pulse vigil, which is still one of the most meaningful stories she’s covered. She earned a second in 2019 for her coverage of Puerto Rico on both the island and mainland in the series Hurricane Maria: Healing a Humanitarian Crisis. Ybeth is also a four-time Emmy nominee and has countless awards, including Valencia College’s 2018 most Distinguished Alumna Award. She was part of a team that was awarded an Associated Press Broadcast Award for Public Affairs, Documentary and TV Magazine in 2018. Ybeth has extensively covered politics for Spectrum News.

Ybeth traveled to Puerto Rico again in January 2020 to cover the series of earthquakes that rocked the island. She was on the island 24 hours after the strongest quake hit — the strongest to ever strike Puerto Rico — covering the destruction and telling the people's stories.

A proud mom, Ybeth notes her son’s love of roller coasters. Now, they're a roller coaster family, traveling the country looking for a new ride. Ybeth met her 6-foot-7 husband — who towers over her — on an airplane. He’s a former professional basketball player from Puerto Rico. In her free time, Ybeth loves to cook, bike ride, and work in the garden.

Ybeth remembers playing at Lake Downey Park as a child and thinks the Central Florida community has a great mix of well-designed, adventurous trails for walking, bike-riding or running; plus theme parks for all types and price ranges, from Disney World and SeaWorld to Fun Spot America and Lil 500 Go-Kart tracks. Ybeth loves the restaurant options here and explores them all, from Linda's La Cantina, Beth's Burger Bar, and Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa to beachside eateries on either side of I-4.

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Hot Topics REVIEW

November 8, 2023

Artificial Intelligence and Elections: The Good, The Bad, The Reality

Moderator Ybeth Bruzual, Spectrum News 13 Anchor

Julie Anderson, Editor-in-Chief, Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel

Kevin Aslett, Assistant Professor, UCF

Ybeth Bruzual set the tone from the start; she made clear to make no mistake that it was appropriate and necessary that LWVOC was bringing our attention to AI, a very serious subject.

She began by announcing President Biden's Executives Order on AI issued just days before Hot Topics on October 30, 2023.

She began the line of questions with: If you have one word to describe AI what would it be?

Julie - SCARY




Bill Cowles explained about elections, candidates’ campaigns must give factual information. This must include the campaign’s consultants.  The community of elections officials (SOE’s and their professional staff) need federal protection, federal regulations.  The President’s Exec Order is a start. However, as Ybeth pointed out, it asks for voluntary commitment. Election Administrators should be a trusted source of information. Their emails and communications have links that end in .GOV; that is the signal that it is an official communication and a trusted government agency.

Professor Aslett responded to protections against unauthorized use of our image and our voice that there is a state statute but most litigation in the courts has been when the likeness has been used for profit. There’s a grey area. Senator Amy Klobuchar has proposed a law for more protections when AI uses unauthorized images. 

Julie Anderson stressed that newsrooms’ first responsibility is to report about it, educate, explain it. At the Orlando Sentinel, they are worried about being fooled. The News organization’s second responsibility is to make sure of accuracy – trace back where it came from, what is the source? Some of the larger news organizations are forming “forensic teams” to check the source, that it is a reputable source for news. And then the news organizations must write about it.

Kevin indicated that social media companies are probably not doing enough.  Most have reduced or eliminated their Trust and Safety Teams which were designed to mitigate against harm and abuse of users on their platforms.


Some (Meta, Facebook, TikTok) have developed labels for AI Generated content. Biggest things that needs to happen is more transparency. Social Media companies must be required to give independent auditors the data to do careful research, to propose solutions as they don’t have access to the data. Think of an airplane’s “black box.” This kind of access helps analyze the content, how much is factual or not, what is the scale of the problem and that would allow sound public policy solutions.

Julie expressed grave concerns that we must have guardrails to protect against worse case AI scenario: that a foreign government may distort elections results. When we know it is being used, we must hold government officials responsible and take it seriously. Now, it is like the “wild west” so we all must get serious and now. Voluntary commitment is just not good enough (re: the executive order, but probably it would require Congressional action for a requirement).

Kevin emphasized that we must empower people with information on AI, give them the tools to find it, and how to be careful. Younger voters are more vulnerable because they don’t use government sources, in fact they use unreliable sources (TikTok) for news.  We must start teaching young people early  what is credible information, what is true and false news, where to find it. This is probably in middle school and senior high school.  Starting with school is necessary: generative AI can be used to create mistrust, chaos, where an entire society does not agree on basic facts.

Key Take Aways

  1. Digital Literacy Education for everyone, but especially young people. BEFORE they are voter eligible. In our schools when students begin having cell phones and are exposed to social media, middle and then senior high schools.
  2. Educate the public to fact check, to make sure what you are reading is credible and reliable, Accept information from appropriate authority - .GOV links! Or credible news organizations.
  3. Share ONLY when you are certain that the information is truthful from a fact-based source. And IF in doubt, DON” T SHARE.
  4. For LWVOC, 2 take aways:
  • Create a digital literacy guide for the public, for educational purposes.
  • Create a program for elections, for candidates to make a pledge, along with their staff and their consultants to commit to NOT using AI or to disclose when it is used, even to provide a trademark or watermark.




2023 Nov Hot Topics: AI & Elections

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