Russia and Iran have obtained US voting registration information and are aiming to interfere in the presidential election, the government’s national intelligence director said.
John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, and FBI Director Chris Wray told a news conference the US will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 US election.
The announcement came after Democratic voters in at least four battleground states including Florida and Pennsylvania received threatening emails, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys.
The messages warned “we will come after you” if the recipients did not vote for Donald Trump.
The voter intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers.
Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation.
The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the November 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted on Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.