Top Senators on Intel Panel Urge Vigilance After Election Interference Attempts

October 22, 2020 Updated: October 22, 2020

The acting chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are warning Americans to be discerning when looking for credible sources for election and voter information, following the intelligence community confirming foreign attempts to spread disinformation ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the panel’s vice chairman, issued a joint statement on Oct. 21 regarding recent threats from Iran and Russia to the upcoming election.

“Our adversaries abroad seek to sow chaos and undermine voters’ belief in our democratic institutions, including the election systems and infrastructure that we rely on to record and properly report expressions of the voters’ will,” they wrote. “They may seek to target those systems, or simply leave the impression that they have altered or manipulated those systems, in order to undermine their credibility and our confidence in them.”

The lawmakers cautioned the public and the media to avoid “spreading unverified, sensational claims related to votes and voting.”

“State and local election officials are in regular contact with federal law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals, and they are all working around the clock to ensure that Election 2020 is safe, secure, and free from outside interference,” they wrote.

Rubio and Warner’s plea comes after Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told reporters on Oct. 21 that voter registration information was obtained by Iran and Russia in an attempt to sow confusion and distrust among voters and undermine confidence in the 2020 election.

Ratcliffe said Iran sought to sow unrest in the United States in an attempt to damage the election outcome for President Donald Trump. Ratcliffe, who appeared at a press conference along with FBI Director Christopher Wray, said that Iran sent false information to voters, including spoof emails.

“We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” he said. “You may have seen some reporting on this in the last 24 hours, or you may have even been one of the recipients of those emails.

“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 in American democracy.”

Wray encouraged voters to have confidence in law enforcement officials at all levels.

“We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermine public confidence in the outcome of the election,” he said.