Friday, July 26, 2019

Russia targeted election systems in all 50 states in 2016; state and local election systems remain vulnerable

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee concluded Thursday that Russia targeted election systems in all 50 states in the 2016 election, and issued a bipartisan report warning that the U.S. remains vulnerable in 2020. It also made recommendations, many of them redacted for security reasons, for securing our elections. Though the committee found no evidence that any votes were changed, it said Russian hackers "were in a position" to delete or change voter data in the Illinois voter database, David Sanger and Catie Edmondson report for The New York Times.

"The report — the first volume of several to be released from the committee’s investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference — came 24 hours after the former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III warned that Russia was moving again to interfere 'as we sit here,'" the Times reports.

Though some details about Russian hacking are well-known, the report calls attention to a more wide-reaching effort than has been previously acknowledged, and one that federal and state officials,  and local election officials, mostly weren't aware of at the time, Sanger and Edmondson report. 

"While the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings were bipartisan, they came on a day when Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, moved again to block consideration of election security legislation put forward by Democrats," the Times notes. "And despite the warnings about the Russia threat, he argues that Congress has already done enough, passing $380 million worth of grants for states to update their election systems and supporting executive branch agencies as they make their own changes. Some administration officials have suggested that the issue is not getting enough high-level attention because President Trump equates any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory."

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