US Sees Little Evidence of Foreign Meddling in Mail-In Voting

August 27, 2020by Alyza Sebenius, Bloomberg News (TNS)
Voting tags at St. Augustine College are on display as Chicago voters hit the polls on April 2, 2019. U.S. officials said they see little evidence of coordinated voter fraud or efforts by foreign adversaries to manipulate mail-in balloting ahead of the November election. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials said they see little evidence of coordinated voter fraud or efforts by foreign adversaries to manipulate mail-in balloting ahead of the November election even as President Donald Trump repeatedly warns that the vote is at risk.

In a briefing Wednesday, intelligence officials said it would be difficult for adversaries to change vote counts in the U.S. However, Russia and other countries continue to attempt to divide Americans with online influence campaigns, according to officials from the FBI, Office of the National Director of Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency.

The officials spoke to reporters the same day they were expected to brief state and local election officials on threats.

Election administration has become more secure since 2016 when Russia sought to influence the election to help Trump, according to a CISA official. This is partly due to election officials practicing better cybersecurity — such as using multifactor authentication and password management — and the use of back ups such as paper trails that allow the auditing of elections after the fact.

Despite these improvements, the official said that progress is still needed in areas including patching networks, planning responses to incidents and controlling access to networks.

Hackers regularly probe state and local networks, including election systems, looking for flaws, the official said. But the vast majority of the attempted intrusions have been blocked or unsuccessful, the official said.

Speaking at a separate event on Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said, “It would be extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to change vote tallies.”

Yet the risk isn’t zero, he added.

“Some foreign actors are covertly trying to undermine confidence in our elections because they are authoritarian governments opposed to representative democracy,” Rosen said.

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©2020 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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