Shaheen Urges Intelligence Agencies to Take Further Action to Combat Disinformation Campaigns Aimed at Disenfranchising Voters

June 27, 2020

(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, called on the Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and U.S. Cyber Command to take additional measures to combat influence campaigns aimed at disenfranchising voters, especially voters of color, ahead of the 2020 election. Sophisticated influence campaigns, like those conducted by the Russian Internet Research Agency in 2016, have been specifically designed to divide Americans and spread disinformation to disenfranchise minority groups. 

The letter, which was led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), was also signed by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). 

“Intelligence officials have confirmed that our elections were attacked by Russia in 2016, and that our elections continue to remain a target of foreign adversaries,” wrote the Senators. “In last year’s World Wide Threat Assessment, the Director of National Intelligence warned that ahead of the upcoming elections foreign adversaries, ‘will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine U.S. alliances and partnerships and shape policy outcomes in the United States.’”

The Senators continued, “As our country grapples with systemic racism and inequality, we cannot allow foreign adversaries to further divide our country and undermine our democracy. On June 9, the Department of Homeland Security warned that it is seeing disinformation campaigns taking advantage of the situation and using it to further sow discord among the American people. With fewer than six months remaining until the general election, it is vital that your agencies act to combat disinformation from foreign adversaries, especially information designed to disenfranchise voters.” 

Full text of the letter can be found here.