Justice Department Vows Swift Action Against Election Threats and Misuse of AI Technology

Jimmy Williams

Top Justice Department leaders promised swift action on Monday to address threats against officials managing this year’s elections and to combat the misuse of advanced technology in disrupting the process.

With a tight presidential race approaching in November, high-ranking federal officials gathered at the DOJ headquarters. They warned that any threats of violence related to the election would be pursued aggressively, and that prosecutors would seek harsher penalties in cases involving artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.

“If you threaten to harm or kill an election worker, volunteer, or official, the Justice Department will find you and we will hold you accountable,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “The public servants who administer our elections must be able to do their jobs without fearing for their safety or their families. We will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who threaten election workers.”

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, overseeing the Justice Department’s response to AI, highlighted the increasing role of emerging technologies in intimidating election workers.

“A particularly disturbing trend across these cases is the way perpetrators use new technologies to mask their identities and communicate their threats,” Monaco said. “Today, criminals use a range of anonymizing technologies, not just burner phones and social media.”

Monaco described artificial intelligence as “the most disruptive” tool being used to interfere with elections.

“These advanced tools are providing new avenues for bad actors to hide their identities and obscure sources of threats,” she said. “They’re also creating new ways to misinform and threaten voters through deep fakes, spreading altered videos or cloned audio impersonating trusted voices, and offering new methods to recruit and radicalize individuals with incendiary social media content that accelerates online hate and harassment.”

Monaco emphasized, “Where threat actors use advanced technology, like artificial intelligence, to make their crimes more dangerous and more impactful, the Department of Justice will seek enhanced sentences.”

The law enforcement officials at the meeting of the Election Threats Task Force did not mention the candidates expected to top the ballot in November—President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump—or how their rematch might intensify emotions, particularly among those who falsely believe the 2020 election was stolen.

In his formal comments, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted, “Any threat of violence against an election official, volunteer, or staff is completely unacceptable, and something the FBI takes very seriously.”

Wray pointed out that some recent threats have occurred “even after elections,” underscoring the ongoing nature of the issue.

As the presidential campaign heats up, the Justice Department’s commitment to addressing threats and the misuse of technology remains a crucial part of ensuring a safe and fair election process. The department’s leaders made it clear that they will use all available resources to protect those involved in administering elections and to maintain the integrity of the electoral process.

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