WASHINGTON (AP) - Foreign hackers did not change vote totals or otherwise compromise the integrity of federal elections last year in the United States, according to a declassified U.S. government report made public Monday.
The report does identify multiple instances in which hackers linked to Iran, China and Russia connected to election infrastructure, scanned state government websites and copied voter information. But it says there is no evidence that any of the cyber activity had any impact on the election or on the vote totals.
"We have no evidence that any detected activity prevented voting, changed votes, or disrupted the ability to tally votes or to transmit election results in a timely manner; altered any technical aspect of the voting process; or otherwise compromised the integrity of voter registration information or any ballots cast during 2022 federal elections," the report says.
The report, a joint document prepared by the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, represents a declassified overview of the U.S. government's assessment of election security last year. It evaluated the impact of foreign government activity on election infrastructure but did not examine efforts by foreign governments to shape public perception or sway voters' opinions.
A separate report issued Monday by the office of the Director of National Intelligence examined foreign influence campaigns by multiple countries during the midterm elections.
The report assessed, for instance, that Russia tried to denigrate the Democratic Party, with a goal of weakening U.S. support for Ukraine, and undermine confidence in the elections. It said China sought to influence a handful of races featuring candidates from both major political parties, focusing on those with anti-China views and covertly denigrating a U.S. senator. And it said that Iran conducted covert operations aimed at exploiting perceived social divisions.
Interference by foreign governments has been central to American discourse in the last several elections, particularly after Russian operatives in 2016 hacked Democratic emails and facilitated their public release in what U.S. officials have said was an effort to benefit Republican candidate Donald Trump over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
Four years later, multiple Trump administration officials repudiated Trump's oft-stated claims of voter fraud and other problems in the 2020 election, with a broad coalition of top government officials and industry officials pronouncing that contest "the most secure in American history."
The Justice and Homeland Security report says that since then, election officials, third-party vendors and political organizations have all taken steps to reduce the potential for a damaging cyber intrusion, and federal and state officials have improved their collaboration with the private sector.
Despite the improvement and the absence of voting total disruptions, the report does single out several episodes that caught the attention of officials, including suspected Chinese government hackers who scanned "election-related and non-election state government websites" or collected publicly available U.S. voter information, as well as pro-Russian "hacktivists" who claimed to have conducted a cyberattack that temporarily affected access to a U.S. state election office website.