FBI asks Arkansas voters to help keep eye out for election crimes

Arkansas FBI agents are part of a nationwide effort to combat disinformation while working with the state to fight suppression and corruption.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be looking locally in Arkansas for signs of election crimes even though many threats may come from far away.

“We’re looking for what we call malign election interference,” said special agent Ryan Kennedy of the Little Rock FBI office. 

“That’s election interference from foreign governments or foreign entities whose purpose is to sow discord in the United States.”

No matter how you feel about the last presidential election, it’s pretty clear there’s plenty of discord going around. If someone from outside the country is doing it to us, that’s a crime the FBI wants to stop.

“A lot of it is done through social media by posting false stories and fake information from both sides of the aisle on social platforms trying to get people angry at each other,” Kennedy said.

Media outlets like THV11 really do want to help verify stories. 

The FBI recommends turning to local news stations as well as news outlets that may differ from your point of view for context before sharing information online.

But agent Kennedy made a point of saying that if you do spread something online, the feds are not coming after you. It’s the people who generated the story they want to find.

“The individual that re-shares or reposts information is not committing a crime,” he said. 

“We would encourage people when they see something on social media to verify the information that they are looking at.”

Other things the FBI will look for this election include voter suppression and other organized efforts to keep people from casting votes. 

That could include intimidation or deliberate misinformation about where and how to vote.

They will also monitor for public corruption. Partisanship is part of the process, but public officials tilting the playing field is a crime.

These efforts take place every election and most of what we see will be perfectly legal, but in this very uncertain year, the bureau is encouraging voters not to be afraid to ask questions and if they see something, to say something.

“It is never wrong to call us,” Kennedy said. “If we are not the lead agency on a certain issue, we will get the information where it needs to go.”