Florida, home of the butterfly ballot and long voting lines, can finally claim it’s not the nation’s worst when it comes to the latest example of Election Day chaos: Russian hackers.
NBC News had a scoop this week when it reported that Homeland Security confirmed that the Russians “successfully penetrated the voter rolls of several U.S. states“ prior to the 2016 presidential election.
The Buzz reported last year that at least five Florida counties were targeted by Russian hackers. Four of the counties, Hillsborough, Pasco, Citrus and Clay, said they received emails but didn’t open them. Another one, Volusia, said it opened one of the infected emails, but not the attachment that would have breached the system.
But the NBC News report advanced the story by confirming that Russians had actually broken through and gained access to voter rolls.
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So, was Florida one of the states that was breached?
Not according to the Florida Department of State, which released a statement first issued last year when asked about the security of Florida’s voting system in 2016.
“The Department of State was notified by the Department of Homeland Security today that Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year. This attempt was not in any way successful and Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure,” said Sarah Revell, spokeswoman for the agency that oversees Florida’s election system. “Ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections remains our top priority.”
Individual supervisors of elections throughout Florida confirmed they weren’t hacked.
“There was no indication that a county system, or one of our valued partners, had been breached,” said Christina White, Miami-Dade’s elections supervisor. “We work closely with the county’s Information Technology Department to ensure the ongoing security and confidentiality of Elections systems.”
“In my sole opinion-Nothing new!,” said Pasco’s supervisor, Brian Corley, in an email. “Arizona and Illinois reported an ‘intrusion’ into their voter data system during 2016 but to my knowledge not in Florida. And unlike Florida, those states voter information is not open with regards to public access/records. Ironic that going to paper ballots in in 2007 was so controversial at the time as having paper ballots in 2016 was beyond wise!”