191106 US election
Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security committee, speaks during a hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019.
Image Credit: Bloomberg

Washington: US security officials warned Tuesday that foreign adversaries would attempt to interfere in the 2020 elections, reprising those of three years ago when Moscow is accused of helping President Donald Trump’s campaign.

In a joint statement the heads of seven top security-related agencies, including the Defence Department, Directorate of National Intelligence and the FBI, said there was no evidence yet of compromise or disruption of the national and state-level election infrastructure that would affect vote counts.

Nevertheless, they said, “Our adversaries want to undermine our democratic institutions, influence public sentiment and affect government policies.”

“Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.”

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The statement, which came on the day of a number of off-year elections around the country, served as a reminder of the impact of Russia’s efforts in 2016, which continue to reverberate through the US political scene.

According to US intelligence chiefs — though still denied by Trump himself — Russian intelligence was behind the hacking of Democratic Party computers and communications, and attempted to electronically break into voting systems at the state and local level.

Meanwhile in a parallel operation a Russian troll farm controlled by a close associate of President Vladimir Putin ran a massive social media campaign designed to bolster Trump and hurt his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The experience bared deep weaknesses in cybersecurity in political campaigns and the machinery of voter registration and voting, as well as the vulnerability of the electorate to media manipulation and fake news.

“Election security is a top priority for the United States government,” the agency heads said.

“In an unprecedented level of coordination, the US government is working with all 50 states and US territories, local officials, and private sector partners to identify threats, broadly share information, and protect the democratic process.”