Two people who know about the situation say that top Biden national security officials are keeping an eye on different threats to the nation’s election security infrastructure before the midterm elections and plan to issue warnings, including in an internal intelligence bulletin this week.
According to the sources, the bulletin would include cyber threats from China, Russia, and other non-state actors, as well as possible physical threats to election officials across the country.
As the midterm elections get closer, there have been more reports of people trying to scare people away from the polls. People wanted to remain anonymous so they could talk freely about important national security and election issues.
On Monday, the Justice Department talked about several schemes to use bad influence and alleged illegal actions by non-state actors. Even though the charges have nothing to do with the warning in the intelligence bulletin, FBI Director Christopher Wray said at a news conference that foreign governments still pose a big threat to US elections.
“Malicious foreign influence is a problem 365 days a year, whether it comes from the Chinese government, the Russian government, or other countries,” Wray said.
One person who knows about the situation says that the administration’s worries about election threats come just days after a call about the midterm elections between federal officials and local law enforcement professionals.
During the conversation, people talked about the possibility of violence as a result of spreading false stories about the election process. Officials say that extremists are likely to threaten and bother election workers, especially those who work at polling places, both online and in person.
“Now we’re hearing that people are questioning people and surrounding ballot drop boxes, and some of them are even wearing tactical gear,” said John Cohen, who used to be the head of DHS’s counterterrorism division. “Are the police prepared?” They have to. All of this is based on the false idea that the 2020 election was stolen.
The FBI, DHS, and DOJ did not answer requests for comment.
Already, people with guns and tactical gear have shown up at ballot drop boxes in Arizona, causing the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office to be called.
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Authorities have been worried for a long time about cyber threats to the United States election infrastructure. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the intelligence community have been keeping an eye on these midterm election worries for months. Officials, on the other hand, have said that foreign enemies haven’t actively tried to mess with the election system.
CISA Director Jen Easterly told reporters on October 13 that, “At this point, we are not aware of any specific or credible threats to break into or disrupt electoral infrastructure.”
Still, Easterly said that this year’s mix of false information, abuse of election workers, and threats from rogue election managers made the security situation “more complicated than it has ever been.”
CISA did not respond to a comment request.
Misinformation and disinformation are seen as the biggest threats to the midterm elections. This is because it would be easy for bad actors, whether they are domestic partisans or foreign intelligence agents, to use delayed results or isolated voting machine glitches to spread false information about the security of the process.