Elections Commission refutes report Russian hackers compromised state systems

Photo by Saiyna Bashir, The Capital Times

The State Elections Commission is refuting an NBC News report claiming Wisconsin’s websites or voter registration systems were compromised by Russian hackers prior to the 2016 election.

U.S. officials told NBC the American intelligence community had developed considerable evidence that websites or voter registration systems in seven states, including Wisconsin, were compromised, and that they never told the states involved.

But a statement from the commission said: “The Wisconsin Elections Commission has never detected a successful hacking attempt on its systems, nor has it ever been notified of one by the Department of Homeland Security or any other state or federal agency.”

The statement was sent to NBC more than a week before it published its report. The Elections Commission also said after checking with U.S. Homeland Security and other partners, they confirmed no other hacking attempts besides a 2016 scanning attempt — messages sent by someone attempting to break into a computer to probe for weaknesses — the agency reported in September 2017.

Five of the other states where online systems were allegedly breached also denied the NBC report.

In the statement, the commission argued further its online systems, including those for elections, are secure. It adds the state agency handling security, the Division of Enterprise Technology in the Department of Administration, addresses more than 9 million scanning attempts annually.

“Wisconsin’s voter registration system and voting systems are secure,” Elections Commission Administrator Mike Haas said.

Other states whose systems were allegedly comprised are Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois and Texas. According to the report, officials say the extent of the hacking varied by state, from entry into state websites to penetration of voter registration databases.

Officials told NBC that no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls.

See the NBC News report: