State and federal officials are denying comments made by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson that “Russians are in Florida’s elections records and have already penetrated certain counties,” and they maintain there has been no election interference.
“There’s no proof,” said Monroe County Elections Supervisor Joyce Griffin, about Nelson’s quotes, which are from an Aug. 8 interview. He has since refused to elaborate or give details about where the information came from.
“I’ve talked to all these supervisors across the state,” Griffin said. “We have not been hacked, and the FBI says we have not been hacked, so if there is someone out there in the government who knows we’ve been hacked and they’re not saying who it is, then they’re part of the problem.”
Secretary of State Ken Detzner recently wrote to Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, asking for evidence, details or any prior communication to state or local election officials in Florida about Russians hacking Florida’s election system.
According to Detzner’s letter, the Department of State contacted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the state Department of Law Enforcement to request an immediate briefing on any information, but all partners said they had no information to corroborate Nelson’s comments.
“If you, Senator Nelson or any federal agency, government official or elected official has information that verifies the ‘Russians are in Florida’s elections records,’ I urge immediate transparency and cooperation in sharing that information so that we can take action to protect our elections,” Detzner wrote to Burr.
This week, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray wrote back that although there have not been new or ongoing compromises of state or local election infrastructure, Russian government actors have previously demonstrated the intent and capability to conduct malicious cyber operations.
“Working with members of the election community, we will continue to prioritize conducting assessments of cyber security risk; addressing vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors; hardening systems for future elections; and planning for incident response,” the letter says. “We are focused on assisting election officials with securing their systems for the 2018 midterms and ensuring Floridians can have confidence that when they visit the polls, their vote will be counted, and counted correctly.”