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U.S. Sees Russia Spreading Disinformation About Mail-In Voting

Alyza Sebenius

(Bloomberg) -- Russia’s state media outlets and proxy websites are spreading disinformation about vote-by-mail, according to a leaked U.S. Department of Homeland Security bulletin.

“Since March 2020, Russian state media and proxy websites have denigrated vote-by-mail processes, alleging they lack transparency and procedural oversight, creating vast opportunities for voter fraud,” according to the bulletin, which was reported and published online by ABC News. “We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail and shifting voting processes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process.”

The leaked bulletin, which was dated Sept. 3, comes as President Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr have cast doubt on the integrity of mail-in balloting, despite U.S. intelligence officials concluding there is little evidence of voter fraud or efforts by foreign adversaries to manipulate the vote-by-mail process. The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to a request for comment about the bulletin.

The bulletin represents the latest evidence that Russia is continuing to try to influence U.S. elections, as it did during the 2016 presidential campaign by hacking and leaking Democratic Party emails and engaging in a social media campaign to divide voters and help Trump’s election effort.

Earlier this week, Facebook Inc.​​​ removed a network of accounts with ties to the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency, which the U.S. has concluded was part of the effort to help Trump in 2016. And, according to ABC News, a July draft bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security included intelligence that Russia sought to spread disinformation regarding Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s mental acuity, apparently reinforcing comments made by Trump and his campaign. The bulletin was delayed because it wasn’t ready for publication, a DHS spokesperson said.

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