The COVID-19 pandemic has many Americans rethinking how they’re going to vote this year, with huge numbers applying for mail-in ballots. There’s also been misinformation about the safety and validity of voting by mail, some from the president himself.
Late last month, the director of the FBI assured a Senate committee that his agency is working to ensure a fair election.
“We take all election-related threats seriously, whether it’s voter fraud, voter suppression, whether it’s in person, whether it’s by mail,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said. “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
The FBI has also designated election crimes coordinators in each of its field offices, including in Chicago.
“Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, so it is critically important that the citizens of the United States have confidence in the election process, knowing that their vote will be counted and that their vote makes a difference,” said Emmerson Buie Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office.
More voter resources: 2020 Voter Guide to the General Election
While there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, Buie said the FBI is always on the lookout for potential election-related crimes.
“There could be double voting, there could be stuffing the ballot box, there could be attempts to vote by non-citizens, there could also be misconduct of election officials, those are some of the common things you see,” Buie said. “We also pay close attention to ensure that people aren’t prevented from casting their vote, so people are threatened with physical harm or any kind of economic harm.”
The FBI is also one of the agencies charged with preventing hacks or other intrusions in election systems.
“Cybersecurity is paramount in the U.S. across the board, so the elections are no different. We have to make sure that we are doing the right things to patch our systems and make sure our systems are secure, firewalls in place and authentications prevalent,” Buie said. “One thing the American public has to always do is also make sure that they don’t inadvertently give their information away accidentally … (on) websites that may be spoofed, or there may be some foreign actor using this website to spread disinformation or collect information from you.”