While President Trump is off writing tweets about how the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election is “all a big Dem HOAX,” a new report from Time claims that hackers were able to access, and in one case alter, voter databases in the United States. According to Time, citing conversations with “current and former officials” with knowledge of the matter, records from thousands of voters were compromised.
Among the incidents was a successful hack involving a county database last year, though it was later caught by officials and the information was restored. (Time notes it is unknown if these particular hackers were Russian agents.) Nearly 90,000 records containing personal information were accessed by Russian hackers, with 90 percent of those records containing some kind of personal information, general counsel of the State Board of Elections, Ken Menzel, said. And according to an ex-FBI cybersecurity official, Anthony Ferrante, in the months leading up to the election, the number of states that were targeted by Russian actors multiplied, with attacks likely being attempted against every state by November 2016. (DHS officials testifying before the Senate earlier this week said election systems in as many as 21 states may have been targeted last fall.) No evidence has been discovered indicating that the Trump campaign had access to any of the stolen data, Time notes.
The one piece of good news is that, despite broad attempts, multiple officials told Time, “[T]he number of actual successful intrusions, where Russian agents gained sufficient access to attempt to alter, delete or download any information, was ‘less than a dozen.’” Still, those numbers don’t exactly bode well for voter confidence and the future of free and fair elections in the United States, particularly amid ongoing government investigations and House and Senate Intelligence Committee hearings concerning the scope of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. After all, 2018 and 2020 are just around the corner.