Fact check: Cyber Command watched for foreign threats on Election Day

The claim: U.S. Cyber Command found evidence of election fraud following the 2022 midterm elections

In the effort to understand why Republican gains in the midterm elections fell short of projections, some social media users suggested fraud as a possible explanation.

Some pointed to a Nov. 9 piece by Real Raw News, which claims the U.S. Army Cyber Command "began noticing election irregularities early in the day," attributing the information to an unnamed source in Cyber Command.

"There’s a lot going on now that doesn’t meet the eye," the piece quotes the source as saying. “We will be looking into all allegations of fraud as we await the results.”

The article was shared more than 100 times in six days, according to the social media insights tool CrowdTangle. That included posts in Facebook groups with hundreds of members.

But the claim is baseless. Cyber Command has not found evidence of election fraud following the 2022 midterm elections. It has not announced any suspicious election activity, nor would it investigate any of the matters described in the article, according to an agency spokesperson. Real Raw News is a website that publishes fabricated stories, many of which USA TODAY has debunked.

USA TODAY reached out to social media users who shared the claim for comment.

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Outside of Cyber Command purview

The article alleges Cyber Command investigated compromised voting machines with unapproved WiFi capability in Maricopa County, Arizona, evaluated connection logs for a tabulator, analyzed a video purporting to show cheating and was involved in the recovery of ballots that were thrown away. But Cyber Command focuses on protecting the U.S. from foreign actors and threats, and as such would not be involved in such activity, according to a Cyber Command spokesperson.

The spokesperson went on to say in a Nov. 30 email that the article is not based in reality.

“U.S. Cyber Command and our components have provided no such comments; these claims are inaccurate,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.

An overview released in October of the activities of a joint Cyber Command-National Security Agency election security group said its primary objectives were to "generate insights on foreign adversaries who may interfere or influence elections; bolster domestic defense by sharing information with interagency, industry and allied partners; and impose costs on foreign actors who seek to undermine democratic processes."

On Election Day, U.S. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, commander of Cyber Command and director of the NSA, released a statement highlighting how the NSA, Cyber Command, FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency were working together to keep the election free of fraud.

"This is an enduring mission," he said in the statement. "We continue to refine what we learned from the 2018 and 2020 elections. We generate insight to enable defense of the homeland and ultimately impose costs by degrading and exposing foreign adversary capabilities and operations."

Real Raw News has previously published fabricated stories about the Navy and the Marine Corps as well as high-profile figures like President Joe Biden. A disclaimer found on the site’s “About Us” page states it “contains humor, parody and satire.” The notice, however, is not included in the website’s articles.

Reuters also debunked the claim.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that Cyber Command found evidence of election fraud following the 2022 midterm elections. Cyber Command has not announced any investigations into suspicious election activity, nor would it look into any of the matters described in the article, according to a spokesperson. The claim stems from a website that publishes fabricated stories.

Our fact-check sources:

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Nov. 3, 2020, in Sparks, Nevada.
Nov. 3, 2020, in Sparks, Nevada.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Cyber Command focuses on foreign threats, not domestic