- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Iran and Russia have obtained U.S. voter registration information and Iran is already using it to “intimidate” voters and “damage President Trump,” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Wednesday night.

In a hastily called press briefing, Mr. Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said no votes have been compromised, and Americans should have faith in the resilience of the system.

But Mr. Ratcliffe said the two adversary nations are trying to influence the elections through misinformation and intimidation.

“We have confirmed that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia,” he said. “This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence.”

He said the intelligence community has already detected emails sent by Iranian operatives “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”

That was apparently a reference to emails received by some voters in Florida, Arizona, Alaska and Pennsylvania, supposedly from the far-right Proud Boys, and threatening to “come after” voters who don’t back Mr. Trump.

Mr. Ratcliffe said those were “spoof emails,” designed to look like they were coming from the group.

In the email, the sender identified the recipient — apparently from the voter registration data — then told them to switch their party registration to Republican and to vote Republican. The sender insisted they would know who voted which way.

Chris Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, took to Twitter to confirm that those emails were forged to look like they came from someone else.

He also pointed out that ballot secrecy is the law across the country, so there’s no way anyone could figure out how a voter voted.

Iran is also behind a video falsely implying people can cast fraudulent ballots from overseas, Mr. Ratcliffe said.

In that case, the video suggests that the Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot, primarily a backup ballot for military and overseas voters, could change election outcomes. Mr. Krebs’s organization said relatively few are cast, so they are not likely to be able to swing an election. And if there were a spike in their use, it “would be detected as anomalous.”

“The great men and women of intelligence caught this activity immediately,” Mr. Ratcliffe said.

Mr. Ratcliffe said they know Russia also has voter information, just as they did in 2016. But as of yet, the intelligence community hasn’t detected Russian efforts along the lines off the Iranians.

Homeland Security officials have said Russia prefers Mr. Trump to prevail in the election, just as it did in 2016. Iran prefers Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden.

So does China, those Homeland Security officials have told Congress — though neither Mr. Wray nor Mr. Ratcliffe mentioned China in their remarks Wednesday.

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