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The nation’s top officials charged with protecting U.S. elections against cyber threats say they're convinced this year's ballot will be safer than ever — even if foreign nations try to interfere.
“Americans should have confidence in the integrity of our election infrastructure because of the enormous amount of work that’s been done by state and local election officials, by the federal government, by vendors, by the private sector since 2016,” Jen Easterly, head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told the House Select Committee on China on Wednesday.
“It’s that work that should make the American people confident in the security, resilience and integrity of the American election system.”
Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of both U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, separately told reporters Tuesday that this year “will be the most secure elections that we’ve had to date.”
Fears about digital threats to voting have been pronounced since evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as recent advancements in new technologies like artificial intelligence.
President Joe Biden and his administration have also been working to shore up confidence in voting security in the wake of Donald Trump's widely debunked election fraud claims and ahead of what could be another potential showdown between the two.
“We have an experienced team and I think that we understand the technologies, and I think that our partnerships are much more broad than they've ever been before,” Nakasone said, adding that he had not seen any indicators of a major cyberattack against voting being planned this year.
Nakasone’s comments came the same day that reports emerged that Chinese President Xi Jinping promised Biden during their meeting in San Francisco last year that Beijing would refrain from interfering. Nakasone said he was unaware of those discussions but noted that he is “always going to trust but verify.”
Easterly meanwhile testified that while “we should absolutely expect that foreign actors will attempt to influence and that they will interfere” in the elections, the strides made in preventing interference will win out.
Nakasone has led the NSA and Cyber Command through the last three federal elections and is set to step down at the end of the week in favor of Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, who was confirmed to the position by the Senate in December.