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IC Leader Doubts Adversaries’ Ability to Skew Voting Results ‘at Scale’

A top U.S. intelligence community leader said today the IC doubts the ability of U.S. adversaries to manipulate the results of U.S. general election voting in any widespread way, while warning that exploits may be attempted against election infrastructure with a goal of interfering with voting processes, stealing data, and casting doubt on the democratic process.

That’s the word from William Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), who updated a previous election security outlook issued July 24.

“Ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections, foreign states will continue to use covert and overt influence measures in their attempts to sway U.S. voters’ preferences and perspectives, shift U.S. policies, increase discord in the United States, and undermine the American people’s confidence in our democratic process,” he said.

“They may also seek to compromise our election infrastructure for a range of possible purposes, such as interfering with the voting process, stealing sensitive data, or calling into question the validity of the election results. However, it would be difficult for our adversaries to interfere with or manipulate voting results at scale,” he said.

Evanina’s previous statement warned of similar threats, but arrived at a differently-worded conclusion. “The diversity of election systems among the states, multiple checks and redundancies in those systems, and post-election auditing all make it extraordinarily difficult for foreign adversaries to broadly disrupt or change vote tallies without detection,” he said.

The NCSC’s report identifies Russia, China, and Iran as the principal culprits in attempts to interfere with U.S. elections.

John Curran
About John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk SLG's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.