Russia and Iran have 'obtained voter information' to meddle in US election

22 October 2020, 01:06 | Updated: 22 October 2020, 01:30

FBI directors have warned US voters about interference from Russia and Iran
FBI directors have warned US voters about interference from Russia and Iran. Picture: FBI
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Russia and Iran are actively attempting to meddle in the US election by stealing voter registration data, the FBI has said.

FBI Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and FBI Director Chris Wray told a press conference that the countries have “taken specific actions to influence public opinion” and have managed to obtain voter registration information.

Mr Ratcliffe told reporters: "We would like to like to alert the public that we have identified that foreign actors - Iran and Russia - have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our elections.

"We can confirm that some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia."

He said the data could be used by foreign powers to "communicate false information" to the public and confirmed that "spoof emails" had already been sent to intimidate voters.

"These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries," Mr Ratcliffe added.

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"Even if the adversaries pursue further attempt to intimidate or attempt to undermine voter confidence, know that our election systems are resilient, and you can be confident your votes are secure."

The security agency made clear they were "on top" of the interference and pleaded with voters not to "allow these efforts to have their intended effect" by spreading false information.

The FBI boss added that the agency was working with Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies to combat the spread of false information.

It follows weeks of US President Donald Trump attempting to discredit the validity of the election, prompting concerns that this latest announcement may further undermine the public's confidence in the final result.

Mr Ratcliffe encouraged the public to "seek election and voting information from reliable sources" and to report suspect criminal activity to their local FBI office.

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Republican Senator Marco Rubio, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Vice Chairman Democrat Mark Warner told voters that foreign countries "seek to sow chaos" in the election and undermine election systems.

“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 said.

"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."