An intelligence assessment undertaken at the end of Barack Obama's presidency found that seven states’ election systems were compromised before the 2016 election, NBC News reports.
Update: The Department of Homeland Security has released a statement claiming the findings were preliminary, out of date and later disproven.
- Michael Daniel, Obama’s former cybersecurity coordinator, tells Axios that a classified report on the topic was compiled by the intelligence community and included findings from July 2016 to January 2017. Daniel did not have access to assessments past January 2017.
- The report indicated that systems in Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas, and Wisconsin were compromised, per NBC.
- What it means: While some systems had voter registration databases breached and others had their websites entered into, no votes were changed and no voters were taken off the rolls, state and federal officials tell NBC News. Six of these seven states deny they were breached.
Full DHS statement:
What we knew before:
- Illinois has acknowledged it was compromised in the buildup to the 2016 election.
- Arizona was alerted by the FBI of a cyber threat to its voter registration system in 2016, although there’s no evidence the system was compromised.
- Last year when the Department of Homeland told these 7 states and 14 others they were targeted, they did not tell these 7 states that they were compromised, per NBC.
One key point: Texas and Florida are the only states on this list that use a combination election system that does not leave a paper trail of all votes. When there’s no paper trail of votes, it’s nearly impossible to verify that vote totals reflect the way citizens voted.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott and state election officials have said they want to spend $2 million on election cybersecurity, per the AP.
- Texas has 23 counties that have updated their election systems since 2016 and 8 have updated to systems with paper trails, Texas’ Secretary of State Communications Director Sam Taylor tells Axios. Texas will be host to the first primary of 2018 on March 6 next week.
- Go deeper: The five states without a paper trail of votes
Michael Daniel's insight to the matter:
This story has been updated with the DHS response to the NBC report and a full statement from Michael Daniel.