Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes discusses A.I. and misinformation

May 26, 2024, 1:15 PM | Updated: May 27, 2024, 7:34 am


With elections quickly approaching, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes offered his takes on a variety of different political issues. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — With elections quickly approaching, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes offered his takes on a variety of different political issues.

Fontes spoke with NBC’s Kristen Welker for a “Meet the Press” segment that was released on Sunday morning. Fontes was joined by three other U.S. secretaries, including Brad Raffensperger (R-Ga.), Jocelyn Benson (D-Mich.), Al Schmidt (R-Penn.)

The group discussed pressing political topics in regards to A.I., misinformation, election fraud, and facing personal threats.

Fontes feels that the biggest challenge heading into November is fighting misinformation.

“I think the biggest challenges that we are all facing heading into November is the perpetuation of the mis-and-disinformation from government officials in the United States of America. Whether it’s political or other gain,” Fontes explained to the group. “This is the problem that is bigger than any other problem.”

Fontes reflected on what happened in 2020 with misinformation that was spread about the integrity of the election. He reinforced that election officials are doing their part to maintain the security of the election.

“We all check our voter registration rules to make sure only valid votes get onto the voter roll, we audit those,” Fontes affirmed. “There are checks and balances all the way through the system through the end. We’re going to keep providing good elections for all of our voters across the country.

“We’ve got tens of thousands of jurisdictions across the United States of America,” he added. “Those are run by your neighbors, your friends, these are folks in our communities who are doing their level best to make sure that our elections continue to be accountable, safe and secure.”

An emerging tactic for misinformation is the use of A.I. Fontes and his team posted a generated deepfake video of himself to demonstrate how powerful A.I. can be.

The Arizona Secretary of State feels that people need to be ready for generated videos like his, as they can be an “amplifier and a magnifier of mis-and-disinformation.”

“What I wanted to do was make sure that our elections officials were familiar with it, [and] we had processes to deal with it and address it,” Fontes explained.

“We also had a tabletop exercise among several elections officials for the media, so that our media partners could learn how to react to it and recognize it. And in June, we’re doing table top exercises for law enforcement,” Fontes said.

Fontes talked about his military training and boot camp experiences as he explained how he came up with the idea.

“We looked to the weapons of our enemies and we trained against them as much as possible,” he said.

Fontes also drew on his experience in the military to deal with threats that he has received in his role as a government official.

“It’s going to take a lot more than threats to get this marine off of his post,” Fontes said.

After the events of the 2020 election, Fontes and his fellow U.S. secretaries discussed how they’ve handled different threats through the years.

Election security has proven to be a very sensitive topic among Americans, and Fontes reaffirmed that government officials are doing everything they can to prevent election fraud. However, he still receives threats.

“One of the ways I have been looking at this and addressing this is telling the really hard truth: threats against election officials in the United States of America is domestic terrorism,” Fontes warned.

“I think the Department of Justice is really ramping up and starting to prosecute. We’re working with law enforcement across the country to really start to address these things. It’s not too little too late. But we do have to address it for what it is.”


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Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes discusses A.I. and misinformation