The ongoing Russian meddling investigation has many San Diegans worried about the results of upcoming elections.
A large group of voters, turned out at San Diego State University on Saturday morning to hear from some of the top local experts on U.S.-Russia relations.
Many of the people in the crowd are concerned that a foreign power could have an influence on U.S. elections.
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“I think it should be scary for everybody,” Peter Dougherty said.
Dougherty and other attendees were especially interested in the presentation by UC San Diego politics professor Eric Gartzke.
“Even the intelligence agencies have been clear, the Russians did not affect the electoral process directly," Gartzke said. "They affected the public opinion, which affected the way people voted, but that’s not the same as going into the polls or going into the electronic voting machines and affecting the vote.”
Gartzke was joined on the panel by SDSU political science professor Mikhail Alexseev and UCSD political science professor Philip Roeder.
"I found the part about the different methods of interference interesting," Dougherty said. "The fact that they are swaying our opinions, but not actually interfering with our actual elections."
The panel was hosted by Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53).
“It’s about our democracy, and it’s about the coming election as well," Davis said. "We want people to certainly get out and feel very empowered to vote and be part of it.”
These experts also presented the Russian perspective and brought up America’s own history of trying to influence the politics in other countries.
"I was very pleased to hear the range of perspectives from the speakers to really go beyond the narrow range of contemporary politics and exchange that you see in the news today," James Halliday said.
Other topics included NATO, the end of the Cold War and the internal politics of Russia.
Experts warned about the politicization of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia Investigation. They agreed that the indictments of 12 Russian agents were very significant. The Justice Department handed down those indictments just days before President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland.
The panelists reminded everyone to not believe everything you read online and suggested the best way to maintain a strong democracy, is to build cohesive communities, both on and offline.