Officials charged with securing the upcoming U.S. presidential election warn the greatest danger may come from a wave of disinformation unleashed by U.S. adversaries in the hours after polls across the country begin to close.The officials fear that is when the country will be most vulnerable, with many Americans expecting to see a winner declared on Election Day. But because of the heavy reliance this year on mail-in and absentee ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, those results may not come election night or even the next day.Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Christopher Krebs testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 22, 2019.“This is probably going to take a little bit longer to do the counting because of the increase in absentee ballots,” Christopher Krebs, director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said Tuesday at the virtual Billington Cybersecurity Summit.“Have a little bit of patience,” he said in a message to voters. “Democracy wasn’t made overnight.”This is not the first time Krebs has issued such a warning, but the message is becoming more urgent with less than two months to go until the election and with increased focus on voting by mail..FILE – In this March 5, 2020 file photo, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a news conference in Lansing, Mich.”Efforts to sow those seeds of doubt in our electorates’ minds have come from domestic sources and from foreign sources this year, more than ever before,” Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson told lawmakers during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last month.“We’ve partnered with professional athletes, business leaders and other influencers to help get that information out in a way that will reach the voters and push back against the rhetoric,” she said.At the same time, officials and some private sector companies have been working to reassure prospective voters that the voting systems are secure.”Every tabletop exercise, every penetration test, every risk and vulnerability assessment that we’ve been a part of says that our defenses are good,” said Chris Wlaschin, vice president of systems security at Election Systems & Software, the largest manufacturer of voting machines in the U.S.“The likelihood of a polling place machine — whether it’s a ballot marking device or a precinct scanner — the likelihood of those being hacked to somehow manipulate unofficial results is very low,” he added Tuesday during the Billington Cyber Security Summit.Ultimately, election officials are hoping that voters understand that just because there will likely be a delay in getting final results does not mean that something is wrong.“That just is the process working,” Homeland Security’s Masterson said.“Election officials are going to focus on accuracy and correctness,” he added. “They’re going to process those ballots, and they’re going to count them. And you’re going to get the results certified and correct, as you’d expect.”

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