U.S. Homeland Security chief: No evidence ‘foreign actor’ has compromised votes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The acting U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary, Chad Wolf, said on Tuesday there was no evidence a “foreign actor” had compromised U.S. votes in the 2020 presidential election.

The message came as Americans begin the final day of voting in an electoral campaign dogged by worries over foreign interference.

“We have no indications that a foreign actor has succeeded in compromising or manipulating any votes in this election,” Wolf told a press conference that was streamed online.

More than 90 million ballots have already been submitted in an unprecedented wave of early voting. Millions more are expected to be cast on Tuesday in what promises to be a bitterly fought contest.

14 PHOTOSVoting across the USASee GalleryVoting across the USAOhio Secretary of State Frank LaRose demonstrates receiving a printed ballot receipt during a media tour of the Delaware County Board of Elections in Delaware, Ohio, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)A woman helps a man cast his ballot in person on the last day of early voting, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, at P.S. 175 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)A man casts his ballot on the floor of The Forum arena in Inglewood, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. In-person voting started for most California counties this weekend as local election officials — many for the first time — opened polling places days early in hopes of avoiding crushing crowds on Election Day. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)CORAL SPRINGS, FL – OCTOBER 30: Voters seen waiting in line to cast their ballots during in person voting at the Northwest Regional Library during the 2020 Presidential Election on October 30, 2020 in Coral Springs, Florida. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch /IPXVoters cast their ballots at Lynwood Recreation Center in Brookhaven, Ga., on the last day of early voting, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)Voters wait to cast their ballots at Lynwood Recreation Center in Brookhaven, Ga., Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, on the last day of early voting. (Phil Skinner/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)Election inspector Taquaine Mason observes as a voter drops his ballot into the box during early in-person voting, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Jocelyn Bush, a poll worker at the Edmondson Westside High School Polling site, cleans each station after a ballot is cast, during the special election for Marylands 7th congressional district seat, previously held by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYVoters fill out ballots during the primary election in Ottawa, Illinois, U.S., March 17, 2020. The polling station was relocated from a nearby nursing home to a former supermarket due to concerns over the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). REUTERS/Daniel Acker TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYVoters wait in line outside Riverside University High School to cast ballots during the presidential primary election held amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Daniel AckerFirst time voter Sarah Facterman votes on a Ballot Marking Device (BMD) inside the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. In-person voting has started in most counties across California. To curb spread of the coronavirus the Legislature allowed counties to offer fewer in-person polling places in exchange for opening them earlier. Voting locations opened Friday in some places and most counties will have it this weekend through Election Day on Tuesday.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)Mail-in ballots sit in containers from the US Postal Service waiting to be processed by election workers at the Salt Lake County election office in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 29, 2020. (Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP) (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)An election worker carries mail-in ballots in containers from the US Postal Service to be processed by election workers at the Salt Lake County election office in Salt Lake City, Utah on October 29, 2020. (Photo by GEORGE FREY / AFP) (Photo by GEORGE FREY/AFP via Getty Images)PROVO, UT – OCTOBER 26: Utah County Election workers unload ballots that were picked up at a United States Postal Service office on October 26, 2020 in Provo, Utah. Utah is one of several states that has recently moved to mail-in ballots for presidential elections. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)Up Next

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Worries that a foreign power might seek to intervene in the 2020 vote have been circulating ever since the previous election in 2016, when Russian hackers dumped tens of thousands of emails online to sway the vote towards Republican Donald Trump and away from Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

Although the U.S. government and private cybersecurity firms have recently flagged attempts by actors in Russia, China, and Iran to spy on people in connection with the U.S. election, nothing on the scale of 2016 has yet to materialize.

There were early technical problems reported on Tuesday, including across Spalding County, Georgia, where voting systems were down, elections supervisor Marcia Ridley told local media.

Ridley did not immediately return Reuters’ requests for comment. Local media reports said provisional ballots were being sent to polling stations so people could still vote.

At the news briefing, senior DHS official Christopher Krebs said he’d seen some indications of disruption but that U.S. election systems were resilient.

He and Wolf advised patience as Americans await the results.

“It is important to recognize this process may require time,” Wolf said.

(Reporting by Christopher Bing and Raphael Satter; Additional reporting by Jack Stubbs in London.; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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