U.S. States Say Voting Systems Were Targeted By Russian Hackers
September 25, 2017
The U.S. government on September 22 notified 21 states that their voting
systems were targeted by hackers in last year's presidential election,
and several of the most closely contested states said the hackers were
linked to the Russian government.
The so-called battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, and
Minnesota, where Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton lost in some cases
by only a few thousand votes to then-Republican candidate Donald Trump,
were among those that blamed Russian hackers.
AP reported that the battleground states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and
Virginia also were targeted by hackers.
Alabama and Washington state, which were among the majority of the 21
hacked states which were not closely contested in the election, also
said they were targeted by Russians.
According to the states and the U.S. government, none of the hacking
attempts succeeded at penetrating the states' voting systems or
obtaining sensitive information about voters -- meaning the hacking
efforts never got to a point where they could affect the outcome of the
"There remains no evidence that the Russians altered one vote or changed
one registration," said Judd Choate, president of the U.S. National
Association of State Election Directors.
Russia has denied any attempt at interfering in the election, with
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on September 22 saying "nobody
has ever presented a single fact anywhere" that supports the allegation.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not publicly say who the
hackers were. But Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael
Haas said the department told the states privately that "Russian
government cyberactors" targeted their voter registration systems.
Haas said he was told the Russian government tested election systems for
vulnerabilities in hopes of accessing voter registration databases, but
Wisconsin was one of a handful of battleground states in the Midwest
that helped Trump win the presidency. Trump carried the state by 22,748
votes, or about 0.8 percentage points.
In most of the 21 states notified about hacking attempts, the department
said it observed only "preliminary activity" by the hackers. It said
only a small number of networks were "compromised."
Only Illinois has reported that hackers successfully breached its voter
A spokesman for Connecticut's secretary of state said Russian intruders
were detected and blocked.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said the department told his
state that its systems were scanned in the weeks before the 2016
"A scan is similar to burglars jiggling the doors of a house and moving
on when they realize the doors are locked," he said.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said entities at the Russian
government's behest scanned the state's system for vulnerabilities, but
did not breach the system.
Washington's top election official, Kim Wyman, said the state learned of
attempted intrusions from Russian internet addresses last year, and
immediately alerted the FBI.
Arizona and Illinois also said last year that hackers had targeted their
voter registration systems.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said he was unhappy that it
took the department so long to notify states that their voting systems
were vulnerable to cyberattacks.
"It is completely unacceptable that it has taken DHS over a year to
inform our office of Russian scanning of our systems, despite our
repeated requests for information," he said, calling it "a detriment to
the security of our elections and our democracy."
A U.S. special counsel and several U.S. congressional committees are
investigating whether Russia attempted to interfere in the election or
collude with the Trump campaign.
While documents leaked to the media have revealed a handful of
interactions between the Trump campaign and Russians, Lavrov said at a
news conference in New York on September 22 that no hard facts have
turned up that prove collusion or meddling in the election.
about a year of this chaos...we never heard not a single fact," he said.
Lavrov said that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told him
privately that he had seen evidence of Russian meddling. But Lavrov said
when he demanded to see the proof, Tillerson told him it was
"confidential" and could not be shared.
Lavrov accused former President Barack Obama of inventing the alleged
Russian election-meddling plot in a "small-hearted" and "revengeful"
effort to "put this time bomb into U.S.-Russian relations" and make it
difficult for the Trump administration to work closely with Moscow.
"And now the immense potential of our bilateral relationship stands
there in vain, and our relations are contracting due to Russophobic
hysteria," Lavrov said.