By Harrison Arubu
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned of alleged plans by Russia to erode the confidence of Americans in mail-in voting.
The warning came in an internal notice issued by the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis on Thursday evening.
According to the DHS, the Kremlin is trying to amplify criticism of vote by mail, which many U.S. states are embracing to check the spread of COVID-19.
President Donald Trump is also a strong critic of the voting method, alleging it is vulnerable to fraud.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted on July 30.
On Aug. 7, the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Centre accused China, Russia and Iran of interfering in the 2020 electoral process.
It alleged that Russia was interfering in favour of Trump, while China was acting to influence the election of Joe Biden on Nov. 3.
On Tuesday, Facebook and Twitter said they had been warned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) against a Russian disinformation campaign in the U.S.
The FBI reportedly said Kremlin-backed groups were using a network of fake accounts and a website set up to look like a left-wing news outlet for the campaign.
Russia has denied all the allegations.
But in Thursday’s notice, the DHS said Russian “state media outlets and proxy websites published criticism of widespread mail-in voting” in mid-August.
It said the publications claimed that unqualified voters could receive ballots due to outdated voter registers voter rolls”.
The department quoted them as saying this could leave “a vast amount of ballots unaccounted for and vulnerable to tampering”.
The DHS said Russian news outlets had also been trying to undermine American public trust in mail-in voting processes since March, by alleging they provide “vast opportunities for voter fraud.”
It said Russia would likely intensify the disinformation campaign with allegations of corruption and failures in the U.S. election system.
DHS further alleged that following the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses in February, Russian outlets claimed that the result was doctored in favor of “establishment candidates”