The FBI along with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, has warned that foreign actors may try to spread false information about the election process and try to discredit the process if the results are delayed. As the coronavirus pandemic is still not showing signs of slowing down, many people may go for mail-in ballots, and this may cause some delays in the results. Some states allow the ballots to be postmarked on the election day and this time interval can be exploited by cybercriminals and foreign agencies to spread false information.
The security agencies are expecting reports of voter suppression, voter or ballot fraud and cyber attacks that target the election infrastructure during this period. Their intention is to convince the general public somehow that the elections are not held legitimately, and this can spread violence and chaos around the country. The security agencies are urging the general public to think logically about the information available on social media platforms as such false information often gets spread through such media in quick time. There are reports that Russia may be trying to work towards altering the election results and the findings by the National CounterIntelligence and Security Center show that some people with Russian links are trying to spread false information to undermine the presidential bid of Joe Biden.
According to the assessment done by some agencies, it was also established that China was not in favor of President Donald Trump getting a second chance, and they want him out of office as he was unpredictable. Christopher Wray, Director of FBI, testified before the White House panel last week that Russia was still very much active to manipulate the electoral process and it wanted to sow discord in the US electoral process. Similar reports by the Senate Intelligence Committee by Rober Mueller say that Russia sought to sway the previous election in favor of Trump in 2016. Trump, however, did not like the statements made by the FBI director and said that the bigger problem was China and the FBI is not mentioning them in the reports. Trump has, on many occasions, tried to discredit the evidence of Russian manipulation, but he is also not in favor of mail-in voting as he suspects that it can lead to massive fraud during elections.
Attorney General William Barr also suggested the same thing about China and said that they are very aggressive in their efforts to interfere in the US elections. However, he declined to comment further even though he mentioned that he had seen the intelligence reports. As such false news is more likely to spread through social media, many tech companies are taking preventive measures to avoid problems in future. Facebook said that it removed several fake accounts that originated from China, and those were having content related to the US elections. However, Facebook also clarified that the activities were not linked to the Chinese government and such pages and posts had very little following.
Some states are opting for universal mail-in voting in a bid to improve the participation during the elections. Apart from that, this will also keep the public safe from the threat of viruses during the elections as they need not come and gather at polling stations. They can conveniently mail the ballots and participate in the elections without any hassles. In some other states, voters have to request for mail-in ballots in order to cast their votes in this manner. However, some states have given provision for universal mail-in votes, and every voter will receive such ballot votes even if some of them want to vote physically at the polling stations. Some experts are worried that this can lead to fraud as people may vote at both places, and this can create chaos while counting the votes. However, the election agencies say that they have made suitable arrangements to track such fraud votes and they will be able to handle the process in a legitimate manner.
Yet another concern with regards to the elections this year was the way in which USPS would handle a large number of ballot votes. Some people expressed their doubts in this regard and said that the votes could come in very late and create hurdles in the electoral process. However, experts who have tracked the working of USPS say that the postal system is robust enough to handle the process and they can easily manage to deliver the mail-in ballots at the right time. Experts cite that during the year-end holiday season, USPS delivers millions of parcels and mails on time, and they have been doing this for many decades. Considering this, they will be able to handle the postal votes without any hassles.However, Trump had major issues with mail-in votes, and he even said that this could delay the results of the election for a long time. This can lead to chaos, and people may become violent when results are announced in a delayed manner and when it is not in line with their expectations in some places.
Trump has also opposed the mail-in votes due to incidents related to voter fraud during the electoral process. He has openly criticised the process and said that foreign entities would rig this election. Going by his statements, it appears that he is not confident about the process, especially when there is a tight race with the democrats. Joe Biden has not expressed displeasure at the mail-in votes and never made any harsh comments on the process so far. He seems to be satisfied with the arrangements while Trump is furious at the mail-in votes. The security agencies will now have to keep a close watch on social media platforms and try to curb false information at the earliest. As such information can spread in a matter of a few hours across the nation, they need to be active on such platforms and use sophisticated software and algorithms to track the false news about the electoral process.