A week before the midterm elections, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly said the Biden administration has done “everything we can” to protect election infrastructure and cautioned against overreactions to any voting mishaps on Election Day.
“There are going to be errors, there are going to be glitches. That happens in every election,” Easterly said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington on Tuesday. “Somebody will forget the key to the polling place. A water pipe will burst. These are normal things they are not nefarious.”
Her reassurances about the election process come as political tensions mount ahead of the Nov. 8 vote. Disinformation related to the election is flooding on social media, poll workers are facing threats of violence and experts are warning about foreign interference. And against this backdrop, mishaps that happen in the ordinary course of an election can be seized upon by political partisans to undermine the perceived legitimacy of the election process.
At this time, Easterly said, CISA has “no information credible or specific about efforts to disrupt or compromise” election infrastructure. “We have done everything we can to make election infrastructure as secure and as resilient as possible.”
She did point to the increase in physical threats and acts of intimidation against election officials, saying that “it’s a really difficult physical security environment.”
“Of course you’ve got disinformation and misinformation which can be used by foreign adversaries to sow discord among the American people to undermine confidence in the integrity of our elections and to incite violence to our election officials,” Easterly said.
During an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Easterly said that CISA is working to build resilience against disinformation tactics, highlighting the agency’s so-called “rumor-control” site that aims to debunk false narratives regarding election infrastructure as well as its efforts to boost information from local and state election officials.
Easterly noted that the administration is “concerned about Russia, and Iran, and China trying to influence our elections,” pointing to a recent Mandiant report that unveiled a recent pro-Chinese government information operation that in part aimed to sow discord in the lead up to the midterms.
The message mirrors a previous alert by CISA and the FBI that cyberattacks against election infrastructure are unlikely to result in large-scale disruption or prevent voters from casting a ballot.