WASHINGTON – Federal authorities have identified no credible threats to U.S. election systems despite persistent efforts by foreign adversaries, including Russia, to amplify disinformation about voter fraud and election integrity, senior FBI officials said Monday.
A month before the anticipated midterm vote, the officials said they were closely monitoring potential threats to election workers in the U.S., after local officials reported a wave of harassment and abuse before and after the contentious 2020 presidential election.
Since June 2021, the federal Elections Threat Task Force has reviewed more than 1,000 reports. About 11% of those met the threshold for federal investigation, so far resulting in four arrests.
The bulk of the potentially criminal threats involved election workers in seven states – Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin – where the vote was close and involved post-election challenges.
In August, FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed deep concern for rising violence driven by an array of domestic grievances, from election-related disputes to lingering anger following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the landmark abortion-rights case Roe v. Wade.
At the time, Wray called election and politically-motivated violence "almost a 365-day phenomenon," an outgrowth of the country's deep divide. Of the Supreme Court's recent abortion decision, he said tensions continue to run high.
"I feel like every day I'm getting briefed on somebody throwing a molotov cocktail at someone for some issue," Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "It's crazy."
On Monday, the FBI officials said there was no evidence that election systems had been targeted by a cyber campaign aimed at disrupting operations or manipulating results.
A significant compromise of such decentralized local election systems in the country would be "very difficult," the officials said.
Still, authorities were tracking attempted efforts by Russia, China and Iran to wage their own attempts at sowing distrust and promoting conspiracy theories aimed at disrupting the vote.
Russia, the officials said, has done the most to amplify the message of so-called election deniers.
While, the officials did not single out primary sources of such activity in the U.S., former President Donald Trump has openly waged a campaign of denying the legitimacy of the 2020 election, falsely claiming widespread voter fraud.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: FBI: No credible threats to US election systems ahead of midterms