FBI, West Virginia officials working to ensure secure election

Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 5:17 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - Early in-person voting is underway in West Virginia and across the country. Millions have already cast their ballots nationwide.

And U.S. intelligence officials say foreign governments are once again trying to influence voters.

“We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections or any criminal activity that threatens the sanctity of your vote or undermines public confidence in the outcome of the election,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Iran and Russia separately obtained voter registration information.

Ratcliffe said Iran is trying to spread misinformation to undermine confidence in the system by sending intimidating and threatening emails to voters in several states.

West Virginia isn’t one of the four states involved in the interference, according to Secretary of State Mac Warner.

He said he’s working closely with federal authorities to ensure a secure election, including the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office. Michael Christman is the Special Agent In Charge.

“Cybersecurity is typically the greatest threat we’re concerned with,” Christman said. “We want to make sure that every citizen has the ability to vote in an unimpeded manner.”

He said along with cybersecurity, the FBI is also monitoring the possibility of unrest leading up to or after the election, particularly, any efforts by groups to harass or intimidate voters at the polls.

“I think we have to be mindful of how that could impact our elections locally,” Christman said.

Warner said local and state officials have prepared for a variety of scenarios involving threats, attacks and acts of interference on the election.

“This is going to happen,” Warner said of election disruptions. “When it does, we shouldn’t freak out. We should anticipate it. We can’t stop somebody from attacking us. All we can do is react to it in a fashion that says we have a training plan in place, we will be transparent with the public as to what we know and when we know it.”

He said if you get a suspicious email or feel threatened to report it to authorities, don’t pass it along and don’t click on any links.

“Have confidence in the elections,” Warner said. “We’ve got this. We’ve done our part, now you do your part and get out and vote.”

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