US warns about foreign efforts to sway American voters

US warns about foreign efforts to sway American voters

US warns about foreign efforts to sway American voters
Oct 03, 2022 1 min, 43 secs

An unclassified intelligence advisory, newly obtained by The Associated Press, says China is probably seeking to influence select races to “hinder candidates perceived to be particularly adversarial to Beijing.” In the advisory, sent to state and local officials in mid-September, intelligence officials said they believe Beijing sees a lower risk in meddling in the midterms versus a presidential election.

While officials said they've not identified any credible threats to election infrastructure in the U.S., the latest intelligence warning comes amid the peak of a midterm campaign in which a rising number of candidates and voters openly express a lack of confidence in the nation's democratic processes.

faces foreign influence campaigns while still dealing with growing threats to election workers domestically and the systematic spread of falsehoods and disinformation about voter fraud.

Overall, the official said, China’s efforts are focused more on shaping policy perspectives, including at the state and local level, rather than on electoral outcomes.

The briefing Monday came weeks after DHS distributed an advisory that described China’s approach during this midterm as different from the 2020 election, when the intelligence community assessed that China considered but did not deploy efforts to influence the presidential election.

There were publicly revealed examples during the last presidential election of influence campaigns originating in China.

State and local governments are limited in what they can do against influence campaigns, given that “their job isn't to police political conversation,” said Larry Norden, an election security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice.

Scott Bates, the deputy secretary of state in Connecticut, noted that election officials in the state had responded to warnings about foreign influence dating back to 2016.

A senior FBI official said that though officials were not tracking any specific effort by a foreign government to hack election equipment, they were nonetheless concerned that an adversary could spread exaggerated or false claims of compromise to undermine confidence in the elections.

Besides concerns about cybersecurity and foreign influence campaigns, the FBI is increasingly focused on physical threats to election workers.

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