DHS Was Wrong About Russians Targeting At Least Two States’ Election Systems


Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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The Department of Homeland Security was wrong when it told both California and Wisconsin that Russian hackers had tried to hack their election website and registration files.

The DHS notified 21 states including California and Wisconsin that Russian-linked individuals had tried to target either voter registration files or public election sites. The DHS is now claiming that these hackers targeted the California Department of Technology and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“The work of our intelligence agencies is critical in defending against cyber threats. I remain committed to a partnership with DHS and other intelligence agencies, however, elections officials and the American public expect and deserve timely and accurate information,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement Wednesday.

Mark Thomsen, chairman of Wisconsin’s Elections Commission, said Tuesday, “Either they were right on Friday and this is a cover up, or they were wrong on Friday and we deserve an apology.”

DHS spokesman Scott McConnell was rather unapologetic in a Tuesday statement to The Daily Caller.

“While we defer to each state whether to disclose the circumstance surrounding their networks, it’s important to point out that discussions of specific IP addresses do not provide a complete picture of potential targeting activity. The Department stands by its assessment that Internet-connected networks in 21 states were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure,” McConnell told TheDC.

His statement came before California’s announcement and suggested the DHS was wrong about additional states. “DHS has made an effort to respond quickly to questions and requests for further information from states following Friday’s calls, and today we provided additional information to a number of states, including Wisconsin,” the spokesman said.

The DHS notification on Friday was met with anger by Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. “It’s unacceptable that it took almost a year after the election to notify states that their elections systems were targeted,” Warner said.

A Washington Post report about the alleged Russian hacking attempts also noted, “In only a handful of states, including Illinois, did hackers actually penetrate computer systems, according to U.S. officials, and there is no evidence that hackers tampered with any voting machines.”


Chuck Ross contributed reporting