With mail-in voting expected to surge during the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has alarmed Democrats by repeatedly denouncing mail-in ballots as a possible source of fraud.
Meanwhile, Democrats, who accuse Trump of trying to discourage mail-in balloting to gain an electoral advantage over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, cast themselves as defenders of a public that relies on the Postal Service for vital deliveries, including prescription drugs.
Now, in a bulletin labeled “For official use only”, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alleges that Russia was “likely to continue amplifying criticism of vote by mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process.”
The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, in the bulletin circulated on Thursday, said that in mid-August, Russian state media outlets and proxy websites criticized widespread mail-in voting, “claiming ineligible voters could receive ballots due to out-of-date voter rolls, leaving a vast amount of ballots unaccounted for and vulnerable to tampering.”
Then since March, Russian outlets have also attempted to undermine confidence in mail-in voting processes, saying that they provide “vast opportunities for voter fraud,” the bulletin added.
The bulletin said Russian outlets, after the Iowa caucuses earlier this year, claimed that the result was “fixed in favor of establishment candidates” and that problems with voting system had led to “ballot manipulation.”
The Department of Homeland Security had no immediate comment.
US intelligence agencies have claimed Moscow meddled in the 2016 US presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.
US special counsel Robert Mueller, a former FBI director, had been examining since May 2017 whether Trump’s election campaign colluded with Moscow to try to influence the election and whether he later unlawfully tried to obstruct his investigation.