2022 US Midterm Elections Top Security Issue: Death Threats

2022 US Midterm Elections Top Security Issue: Death Threats: In the lead For the 2018 midterm elections in the United States, law enforcement, intelligence and election officials are on high alert for digital attacks and influence operations after Russia demonstrated the reality of these threats targeting the 2016 presidential election. Six years later, the threat of hacking and malicious foreign influence remains, but 2022 is a different time and a new top-line risk has emerged: physical security threats to election officials, their families and their offices.

Department of Justice in July 2021 Used A task force to combat threats against election workers, and released by the US Election Assistance Commission Safety guidance For Election Professionals. But in public comments this week, lawmakers, national security officials and election administrators all expressed concern that misinformation about the security and validity of US voting continues to shape the new threat landscape heading into the midterms.

“In New Mexico, conspiracies about our voting and election systems have gripped a segment of the electorate and spurred people to take action,” New Mexico Secretary of State and Top Elections Official Maggie Toulouse Oliver testified before the House Homeland Security Committee. yesterday “During the 2020 election cycle, I was doxxed and forced to leave my home for weeks under state police protection. Since 2020, my office has certainly seen a surge in social media trolling, victim emails and calls into our office, and other communications that parrot the misinformation that is rampant in the national discourse. But recently, especially since our June 2022 primary election, my office has faced threats serious enough to refer law enforcement.

In a discussion Tuesday about midterm election security at the Fordham International Conference on Cyber ​​Security in New York City, FBI Director Christopher Wray and NSA Director Paul Nakasone stressed that federal intelligence and law enforcement will look to foreign adversaries active in past US elections—including Russia, China and Iran—for the 2022 midterms. Potential threats. But threats against election workers are now at the top of their list.

“We … position ourselves to better understand our adversaries, so as we approach the fall we have a series of activities that we will conduct now and in the future,” Nakasone said Tuesday. “But the other part of it, I think it’s not episodic, it’s a continuous engagement for us, it’s a continuous engagement that we have over time in terms of being able to understand where our opponents are, what they’re trying to do, where we need to influence them, how they’re improving. .

When asked how the FBI handles disinformation stemming from foreign influence operations, Wray said the bureau simply has a set of mandates that it enforces around elections.

“We are not the truth police,” he said at the meeting. “That is not to say that falsehood and what is called truth does not play an important role, our writings are very specific. We target foreign harmful influence. We’re looking at malicious cyber actors, whether they’re foreign or otherwise, targeting election infrastructure—so cyber activity. We investigate federal election crimes, and that covers everything from campaign finance violations, to voter fraud and voter suppression, to — among the most alarming amounts we’ve seen in the past few years — threats of violence against election workers. I won’t tolerate it.”

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