National security officials announced Wednesday that Iran and Russia obtained voter registration information that could support efforts to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. The officials also confirmed that Iran sent threatening emails designed to intimidate voters.
“Iran and Russia have taken specific actions to influence public opinion relating to our election. Some voter registration information has been obtained by Iran and separately by Russia,” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said in a press conference Wednesday evening. “This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to convey misinformation.”
Voter registration information is often publicly available, so there’s no indication that either Iran or Russia breached any US infrastructure. Still, Ratcliffe and FBI director Christopher Wray warned Americans to be cautious when reading and sharing information regarding voting online.
The announcement about Iran’s involvement in the emails confirms The Washington Post’s reporting from earlier today. The report said that Iran was behind emails sent to some Democratic voters that were spoofed to appear to have been sent from the far-right Proud Boys organization earlier this week. One of the emails viewed by CBS News showed that it threatened individuals to vote for President Trump or “we will come after you.” That email also said that “we are in possession of all of your information.”
Ratcliffe also said that Iran is distributing other content, such as a video that “implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots.”
“We ask every American to do their part to defend against those who wish us harm,” Ratcliffe said. “Do not allow these efforts to have their intended effect.”