Washington, DC – The FBI tonight announced that both Russia and Iran have obtained voter information data. While it is a real attempt at foreign interference, it is a risk election officials have been preparing for since 2016.
It is unclear at this point whether these adversaries obtained information other than what is available in voter registration databases that candidates, parties, or members of the public can purchase. Voter registration rolls are not private in this country.
The attack described by the FBI and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe does not suggest there were changes made to voter information that might cause widespread chaos at polling places, nor does it suggest that any changes were made to voters’ choices. That’s important because voter registration systems are separate from the systems used for casting ballots, vote counting, and reporting results.
Matthew Weil, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Elections Project said, “Tonight’s announcement should be a serious wake-up call for all Americans. Before you forward that email, post that article, or retweet that tweet, you should verify that information through a trusted source of information.”
Weil added, “Your local or state election official is the most trusted source of information.”
The risk of foreign interference does not end on November 3. The counting process will take time and there will be more opportunities for adversaries to sow discord. Americans must remain vigilant, only rely on trusted sources of information, and reject attempts to sow doubt or spread misinformation about the legitimacy of our elections.