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Election security is top priority: Heads of US agencies, depts

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

A year ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, amidst concerns of interference by countries like China and Russia, heads of over half a dozen American agencies and departments have issued a joint statement saying election security is the country's top priority.

In an unprecedented level of coordination, the US government is working with all 50 states and US territories, local officials and private sector partners to identify threats, broadly share information and protect the democratic process.

"We remain firm in our commitment to quickly share timely and actionable information, provide support and services, and to defend against any threats to our democracy," said the statement issued on Tuesday by Attorney General William Barr, Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, FBI Director Christopher Wray, US Cyber Command Commander and NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and CISA Director Christopher Krebs.

On Tuesday, dozens of states and local jurisdictions across the country were hosting their own elections and, less than a year from now, America will go to the polls and vote in the 2020 presidential election, they said.

"Election security is a top priority for the United States government. Building on our successful, whole-of-government approach to securing the 2018 elections, we have increased the level of support to state and local election officials in their efforts to protect elections," the joint statement said.

The federal government is prioritising the sharing of threat intelligence and providing support and services that improve the security of the election infrastructure across the nation, it said.

Claiming that America's adversaries want to undermine the democratic institutions, influence public sentiment and affect government policies, the joint statement said Russia, China, Iran and other foreign malicious actors will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.

Adversaries may try to accomplish their goals through a variety of means, including social media campaigns, directing disinformation operations or conducting disruptive or destructive cyber-attacks on state and local infrastructure, it added.

"While at this time, we have no evidence of a compromise or disruption to election infrastructure that would enable adversaries to prevent voting, change vote counts or disrupt the ability to tally votes, we continue to vigilantly monitor any threats to US elections," the said.

The top officials asserted that the government will defend democracy and maintain transparency with the American public about its efforts.

"An informed public is a resilient public. Americans should go to trusted sources for election information, such as their state and local election officials. We encourage every American to report any suspicious activity to their local officials, the FBI or DHS. In past election cycles, reporting by Americans about suspicious activity provided valuable insight which has made our elections more secure. The greatest means to combat these threats is a whole-of-society effort," the joint statement said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 06 2019. 05:05 IST