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Homeland Security officials on high alert this Election Day

Posted at 4:11 PM, Nov 06, 2018

The Department of Homeland Security is on heightened alert, watching for any election security issues.

In the last week of October, hackers targeted at least six states, attempting to get into their voter databases and election security systems, according to the Boston Globe. Some states reported they had to block more than 50,000 log-in attempts that came from foreign countries.

“The worst-case scenario is somehow a system is slowed down or brought down, or perhaps there’s some problems on election day, where voters have to wait longer,” says John Fortier, with the Bipartisan Policy Center. “But there are backup procedures and there are ways of recovering from this.”

On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security reassured voters that their ballots are safe.

“We have no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes,” said their statement in part.

“At this stage in the election, we’re not expecting it, certainly not to effect votes, and secondly there are lots of procedures to recover from this,” Fortier explains. “If there is a problem, there is a backup, both for voters and election administrators.”

For now, the bigger concern has become misinformation online, including attempts to cause chaos and manipulate public opinion.

Read the joint statement released by the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice in its entirety below:

“Our agencies have been working in unprecedented ways to combat influence efforts and to support state and local officials in securing our elections, including efforts to harden election infrastructure against interference. Our goal is clear: ensure every vote is counted and counted correctly. At this time we have no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes.”

“But Americans should be aware that foreign actors – and Russia in particular – continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord. They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics. The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity, and being vigilant consumers of information, as discussed below.”

“The United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from Russia, China, Iran, or other nations. As noted in a  joint statement on October 19, 2018, such actions are a threat to our democracy, and identifying and preventing this interference is one of our highest priorities. On September 12, President Trump signed an executive order that makes clear the U.S. government will not hesitate to defend our electoral processes or punish those who attempt to undermine them.” 

“Our agencies have been making preparations for nearly two years in advance of these elections and are closely engaged with officials on the ground to help them ensure the voting process is secure. Americans can rest assured that we will continue to stay focused on this mission long after polls have closed.”