The Latest: Nielsen downplays 2018 Russia election threat

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on U.S. election officials meeting (all times local):

1:10 p.m.

The U.S. homeland security secretary says there are no signs Russia is targeting the 2018 midterm elections for cyberattacks with the “scale and scope” it used in 2016.

Kirstjen (KEER’-sten) Nielsen spoke Saturday at a Philadelphia conference of U.S. state secretaries of state from across the country.

Nielsen’s boss, President Donald Trump, has not said Russia tried to influence the 2016 elections, and Russia has denied interfering. Trump is scheduled to meet Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Nielsen said Friday’s indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of election-related hacking show the federal government won’t tolerate incursions.

Nielsen says there’s intelligence Russia is using social media to foster “divisiveness” among the American people. She says local election officials should reach out for help if they need it.


This item has been corrected to show the 1st name is spelled is Kirstjen, not Kristjen.


12:40 p.m.

Some state election officials say the federal government is doing a better job of communicating about cyber-risks as the nation prepares for 2018 midterm elections.

State secretaries of state and other top election officials are meeting in Philadelphia amid fresh allegations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential elections.

Missouri Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft says he now is able to reach the Department of Homeland Security about threats to election systems. He says previously the federal authorities would say they talked to the states but not always say whom they reached.

Washington GOP Secretary of State Kim Wyman says she’s seen improvements in the last six months.

Authorities have said Russian agents tried to get into voter registration systems in 21 states before the 2016 elections, breaching one.

Russia has denied interfering in the U.S. election.


3:15 a.m.

The top state election officials from throughout the U.S. are gathering this weekend in Philadelphia amid fresh revelations of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The annual gathering has typically been a low-key affair highlighting such things as voter registration and balloting devices. This year’s meetings are generating far greater interest.

The conference is sandwiched between Friday’s indictments of 12 Russian military intelligence officers alleged to have hacked into Democratic party and campaign accounts, and President Donald Trump’s long-awaited meeting on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has never condemned Russia over its meddling in the 2016 election.

Some state election directors say it’s important for the president to take a tougher stance to avoid having the public’s confidence in fair elections undermined.

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