FBI Seattle in ‘very heightened state’ monitoring potential election threats

VIDEO: FBI, Washington take extra measures to make sure your vote is protected

SEATTLE — Political tension has the FBI and Washington state taking extra measures to make sure your vote and this election are protected.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman said her office has worked with law enforcement across the state to make sure officers are ready to respond to any trouble at the 500 ballot boxes across Washington.

Voters said they’re more nervous than ever before about this election.

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“Pretty tense, I feel like my heart has been racing all day,” said Victoria Pham, a Seattle voter. She said she normally votes by mail. But this year, she chose to drop her ballot off directly in a ballot box.

“This sounds more secure,” Pham said.

Voters are also worried about election security.

“There’s definitely concerns for that,” said Matthew Jackson, another Seattle voter. “There’s a lot more of a hotbed of emotion, possibly, just because of this year,” he said.

The FBI Seattle field office reported all of its resources are mobilized.

“This election, of course, we are in a very heightened state,” said Abass Golfrey, assistant special agent in charge at FBI Seattle.

He said FBI agents are embedded in multiple command posts, from National Guard stations to the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

“One area we look at this election is unrest,” Golfrey said. “As far as unrest, the focus is on domestic actors, domestic violence extremists,” he said.

Golfrey specified that the concern is over unrest that violates election laws, such as acts of voter intimidation or voter suppression.

“Is there more activity on one side or another that you’re aware of?” KIRO 7′s Deedee Sun asked.

“Definitely on the white supremacy organizations — there seems to be more activity this time around. But we are concerned regardless of on which side is coming from. Our job is to protect the public,” Golfrey said.

The assistant special agent in charge said this election is different from those in past years — where the concern was more about foreign interference.

“This year, the focus is not so much international terrorists. It’s more domestic actors,” Golfrey said.

The FBI emphasized there have not been any credible threats in Washington state so far. The FBI will only respond to unrest or activity that violates federal laws and may assist local law enforcement in certain situations.

“But we are prepared for any eventuality,” Golfrey said. “To ensure that we have a free and fair, peaceful elections,” he said.

FBI Seattle added there have been some attempts of foreign interference — but nothing that targets Washington.

“There are foreign malign actors who want to influence the election process, mostly through disinformation campaigns,” Golfrey said.

Wyman recommends voters verify any information they get in their inbox or on social media and then double-check it.

“I’m hoping when people get that info that’s a little questionable, they’ll go to a trusted source and get the information there,” Wyman said. She said her team will be working to certify the election between Election Day and 21 days from now.

Voters said that after casting their ballots, they’re just going to sit back and watch history unfold.

“We’re going to have the broadcast on, and we’re going to be having drinking games and just taking the edge off,” Pham said.