FBI Media Alert: Public Vigilance Urged as General Election Approaches in New Mexico
A team of federal, state, and local law enforcement, intelligence, and other government agencies in New Mexico has been working for more than a year to prepare for the November 3 general election.
The Albuquerque FBI Division is part of an election working group that includes the U.S. Attorney’s Office, New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the U.S. Postal Service, and other agencies.
“The American people expect and deserve fair, open, and honest elections that are free of interference,” said Special Agent in Charge James Langenberg. “The FBI has jurisdiction over federal election crimes such as voter and ballot fraud, civil rights violations, and campaign finance offenses. The FBI is also the primary federal agency responsible for investigating malign foreign influence and malicious cyber activity aimed at political campaigns and election infrastructure. We are ready to quickly respond if required.”
To our knowledge, no foreign government has attempted to tamper with the U.S. voting system. But everyone must remain vigilant in protecting our voting infrastructure.
“Our system of government rests on the premise that elections are decided by eligible American citizens exercising their right to vote,” U.S. Attorney John Anderson said. “The federal government is committed to doing its part to ensure that our elections are both free and fair. Citizens can help us protect the integrity of our elections by reporting illegal actions. I encourage those who have specific information about such activities to make that information available immediately to my office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”
“I’m thankful to the FBI for having me here today to inform New Mexicans of what my Office and the state’s election administrators are doing to ensure the integrity of the upcoming election,” said New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver. “Especially as we get closer to the General Election, New Mexicans should be extra vigilant about the election information they encounter and rely on state and local election officials for trusted information about voting.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has designated Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Peña to serve as the District Election Officer for the District of New Mexico. In that capacity, AUSA Peña is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
Anyone who suspects an election crime has been committed should call 1-800-CALL-FBI or go online at tips.fbi.gov.
The FBI and CISA have recently issued several election-related public service announcements, including the potential threat posed by foreign actors and cybercriminals to spread disinformation regarding the results of the 2020 elections, and the possibility cyber actors could try to compromise election infrastructure to slow (but not prevent) voting.
New Mexicans are urged to use only trusted sources, such as state and local election officials and NMVOTE.ORG, for information about polling times, locations, and election results.
Computer users should practice good cyber hygiene by not clicking on links in unsolicited or unknown emails. They also should report suspicious activity to social media platforms and IC3.gov.
FBI Headquarters in Washington, as well as field offices across the nation, will set up command posts to respond to reports of any election-related matters.
The FBI in Albuquerque has a special agent designated as its election crimes coordinator.
Links to information about the FBI’s role in helping to ensure fair and free elections, as well as examples of what are and what are not federal election crimes, can be found at the top of https://www.fbi.gov/albuquerque.
Another important initiative is “Protected Voices,” an effort to provide tools and resources to political campaigns, government agencies, private sector companies, and individuals to protect against online foreign influence operations and cybersecurity threats.
These resources can be found at https://www.fbi.gov/protectedvoices.
Election-related Public Service Announcements can be found at: https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices/albuquerque/news.
What the Public Can Do:
Ask simple questions: Ask yourself, “Who are you talking to online?” and “Where did the information you are reading come from?” Maintain a general awareness that foreign adversaries seek to deepen divisions in the United States. They may be counting on you to forward information you don’t know to be accurate.
Ask where information originated: Know the origin of information, including the ideology and motivation of the source, and seek out multiple sources to make informed judgements. Be aware of your own assumptions and biases, and how a foreign adversary may choose to manipulate them.
Be aware of social media deception: Social media provides our adversaries with a way to easily and anonymously connect with them, so users should know their contacts and followers before forming a relationship with them virtually.
Check your polling information: Before election day, ensure the information you receive about your ballot, polling location, or other general information are sourced to official government websites.
Beware of “deep fakes”: Emerging technology used to generate “deep fakes”—advanced synthetic audio and video generated through artificial intelligence—may mimic authentic communications in a manner that is hard to detect and to counter. “Deep fakes” may be able to elicit a range of responses, which can compromise election security. The FBI has been working with the private sector to get ahead of this issue.
Report suspicious activity to social media platforms: Many social media platforms provide users a means to report suspicious behavior/content. Check the respective site for reporting procedures.
Report suspicious activity to the FBI: The public can report all suspicious activity to 1-800-CALL-FBI or tips.fbi.gov.