Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is warning of protest “violence” and “conspiracy theories” running “rampant” if the November election results are delayed.
"I hate to say it but it invites violence," King said on Monday.
"It invites people going into the streets who feel their votes weren't counted or something crooked happened."
The Maine Independent made the dire warning after days of looting and violence across the country amid the demonstrations over George Floyd's death.
King cited problems in Georgia's recent primary elections as a sign of what's to come in November and described the balloting as a "semi-disaster."
He also said the nation's election system is "de-centralized" but remains "vulnerable" to cyber attacks. Furthermore, King added that the influx of mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic makes the situation even more challenging.
"We are way more vulnerable than we think," he said during a "How to Hack DC: What is the Future of Cybersecurity and Cyberthreats?" discussion organized by New America. "I am very worried about the election in 2020."
Some state election officials have already expressed concern about a nightmare scenario in November due to the expected surge of mail-in ballots. King was asked about the effect that delayed results in November could have on the American public's confidence in the country's election system.
King, also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expects that delays in reporting the results will create distrust in the country's electoral process and invite violence in the streets.
"Every day that goes by will be a new layer of uncertainty and suspicion," he said. "Conspiracy theories will be rampant. People will be saying, 'What's going on in Broward County?' or 'What's going on in Green Bay?' "