U.S. security heads warn Russia, China, Iran will interfere in elections

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Nov. 6 (UPI) — As voters in several states took to the polls in key elections Tuesday, seven federal security agencies warned “foreign malicious actors” will attempt to interfere in U.S. democracy.

In a joint statement, heads of the departments of justice, defense, national intelligence, the FBI, Cyber Command and the NSA said they have made election security a top priority to thwart attempts by Russia, China, Iran and other actors seeking to interfere in U.S. elections.

“Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment and affect government policies,” the agency heads said. “Russia, China, Iran and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.”

The adversaries may use social media campaigns, direct disinformation campaigns or conduct cyberattacks on state and local infrastructure, they said, adding that while they have no evidence of compromise or infiltration into the United State’s election infrastructure, the federal government is working with all 50 states, territories, local officials and private partners to identify threats and share information “in an unprecedented level of coordination.”

The statement was issued to keep the public informed, they said, as “an informed public is a resilient public,” telling them to visit “trusted sources” for election information, such as state and government officials and encouraging anyone who detects “suspicious activity” to contact local officials.

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“In the past election cycles, reporting by Americans about suspicious activity provided valuable insight, which has made our elections more secure,” they said. “The greatest means to combat these threats is a whole-of-society-effort.”

The statement follows Robert Mueller, the former special counsel who conducted an investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election, warning to lawmakers in July that the longtime U.S.-adversary was again attempting to influence the upcoming 2020 election and other countries were developing the capabilities to replicate what they did.

“They are doing it as we sit here,” he told Congress. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

A day after Mueller issued that warning, a bipartisan report was released stating that Russia targeted all 50 states in its election-meddling campaign.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly denied Russia involvement, stating in a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he couldn’t see why they would interfere in U.S. elections, though he would later say he misspoke.

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