201022 US election
A Democratic Party canvasser holds up campaign material while knocking on doors in the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona, October 15, 2020 to encourage people to vote in the November 3 presidential and congressional elections. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: Russian and Iran have both obtained US voter information and taken actions to influence public opinion ahead of the November 3 election, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced Wednesday.

Ratcliffe said Iran specifically had sent “spoofed” emails to Americans “designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump.”

He said Iran had also distributed a video that implies that people could send in fraudulent ballots, including from outside the United States.

Ratcliffe said both Iran and Russia seek to use information obtained “to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos, and undermine confidence in American democracy.”

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” he said.

The announcement came after registered Democratic voters reported receiving personally addressed emails in the name of the Proud Boys armed militia group.

“You will vote for Trump on election day or we will come after you,” the emails said.

Ratcliffe, with FBI Director Christopher Wray beside him, did not explain how the Russians and Iranians had obtained the voter information, or how the Russians might be using it.

Wray stressed that US election systems remained safe and “resilient”.

“Rest assured that we are prepared for the possibility of actions by those hostile to democracy,” Ratcliffe said.