First on CNN: Election staff trained to deal with violence at polls as midterm approach


Federal officials are providing state and local elections officials with training to “safely de-escalate” voter confrontations that could turn violent before Midterm elections in Novemberaccording to an email to election officials obtained by CNN.

The move underscores the level of concern ahead of the upcoming election and in response to a range of threats of violence and harassment that election officials have faced since the 2020 election. Big is from people who falsely claim that the ballot has been damaged by fraud.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the Department of Cybersecurity (CISA) says the training includes “non-confrontational techniques” for dealing with angry voters as well as how to identify whether an “urgent response” is needed. in an email this week to election workers.

CISA encourages election officials to contact the agency for in-person or virtual training because “personal safety is paramount.”

“The current environment is arguably more complex than ever for election officials, who are doing the critical job of securing their electoral infrastructure and protecting our democracy. us,” Kim Wyman, CISA’s senior election security team leader, said in a statement to CNN. “This includes unprecedented levels of intimidation and harassment directed at election officials.”

Election officials and their advocacy groups have repeatedly asked US officials for more assistance in dealing with the harassment and misinformation that inspired it such as the middle-of-the-road approach. period. FBI there is no full picture about threats of violence faced by election officials because of errors in the reporting process, a representative of a group of election officials told Congress in August.

Threats have forced many election workers quit and ramping up the pressure on those who are still running in the biggest election since Donald Trump was about to lose in 2020.

Elections officers have reported more than 1,000 interactions with the public that they consider hostile or threatening to the Justice Department task force, but that may be only a small fraction of the intimidation behavior that has occurred. occurred since 2020.

New training program will be released after CISA waste CNN reported last week a multimillion-dollar proposal from a contractor to protect election workers from harassment in part because of legal concerns and questions about the effectiveness of the plan. Two election officials appealed to the Secretary of Homeland Security to approve part of the plan “before these intimidation efforts get worse than before” in mid-November.

Concerns about election-related violence also surfaced in a confidential meeting that officials from the FBI and DHS held Thursday with election officials across the country, according to multiple people familiar with the election. meeting.

According to residents, the briefing – one of several that US officials have held for election workers in recent years – did not reveal any notable new threats. for the US elections, according to the people. But it did highlight that Russia and China continue to use influence operations and other tactics to try to divide voters or shape American public opinion like the midterm approach, the sources said. .

Ransomware attacks – which have hampered local and state government services in recent years – were also covered during the press conference, people familiar with it said. Amid concerns that ransomware could disrupt election-related infrastructure ahead of the 2020 election, major tech companies like Microsoft and US Cyber ​​Command, the military’s cyberattack unit, attempted to take down parts of a ransomware group’s infrastructure.

Some private analysts have echoed US officials’ warnings about foreign influence activities ahead of the November vote.

According to a new analysis that threat intelligence firm Recorded Future shared with CNN. An online figure linked to a Russian troll farm that interfered in the 2016 US election has resurfaced in recent months on Gab, a platform popular with conservatives. far-right, to post about the integrity of US elections, analysis shows.

Chinese interference activities will likely target US congressional candidates, while the scale of Iran’s influence activities may depend on the status of negotiations with the US to restore restore a nuclear deal, the analysis said.

Examples of those types of influence activities have come into the public eye in recent weeks.

Meta-owned Facebook has shut down a network of fake accounts of Chinese origin posing as Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, social media giant said this week.


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