Russians made two voting systems in Florida; FBI and DeSantis refuse to release data

Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis, speaking at a press conference, refused to identify the counties, saying that the FBI had asked for them not to be disclosed. | Steve Cannon / AP Photo

According to GARY FINEOUT


TALLAHASSEE – Russian hackers were successful in Florida's two county voter registration files in 2016, indicating that Tuesday was at Gov.

DeSantis, speaking at a press conference, refused to identify the counties, stating that the FBI had signed a non-disclosure agreement – a remarkable move that could have a suspicious legal position in a state with wide-ranging public record laws.

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“The whole story is unprecedented,” admitted DeSantis spokesman Helen Ferré.

The Russian effort is known to focus on Florida for some time, but the data is scarce. In March, Robert Mueller's special report on the interference of Russia in the 2016 elections gave special advice to the state which emerged that at least one county was infringed in Florida. This exposure to Florida officials, who said the effort was unsuccessful and was working to promote security before 2020, added.

DeSantis said that the "invasion" by Russian hackers did not affect any voting shading, which is handled on a completely different system. He also stated that there is no evidence that the hackers have been able to change any of the data they have received.

“There was no manipulation, or anything, but voters had details that were able to get,” DeSantis said.

The FBI speaker confirmed the details of the meeting in a written statement.

“The FBI provided information relating to an attempt to interfere with Electoral Supervisor networks throughout the state. The FBI also provided assurance that investigators did not feel any adversary activity that affected voting or interfered with election processes during the 2016 or 2018 elections, ”the bureau official wrote.

Bureau officials will meet with Sen. Rick Scott on Wednesday and intend to give a ranking briefing to the entire Florida conference delegation on Thursday. Scott will ask the FBI to re-vest the information as soon as possible, his spokesman said.

Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation, said that a long line of court rulings makes it clear that Florida officials cannot agree to keep a document confidential if shared with them. She said that this would apply even to DeSantis documents which he had not kept. However, she said that the open records law would not apply to information given to DeSantis orally.

Former Representative Stephanie Murphy, who along with Michael Waltz Rep asked to ask the FBI briefing on a Florida delegation, called the news of the two counties "disruptive."

"I look forward to learning more this week about what has happened and what the federal government is doing to prevent further cyber-points on our electoral systems," Murphy said.

Marco Rubio, who warned local election officers a year ago about potential risks, was already aware of Russian disruption and recently admitted it in an interview with the New York Times.

“Since April 2018, I have been concerned again and again about the confidence of some Florida election officials, and I urged them to be a real threat to cyberattack,” Rubio said in Tuesday's statement. “These are national state threats with significant resources and assets available to them. Florida is a major volatility state that often decides on presidential elections, and is a high goal. ”

When is then-Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democratic, made a similar declaration about Russian hacking last year, Scott prosecuted him on the campaign track, claiming proof and calling for the "irresponsible commentary." Scott, a Republican and a governor at the time, didn't make Nelson in November.

Nelson refused to comment on the latest disclosure on Tuesday, replacing a brief statement he produced in April explaining why he chose to issue a warning to election supervisors last year. “The Mueller Report says why we had to take this important step along with my subsequent warning,” Nelson wrote.

It is not clear who was aware of Russian interference, or when. DeSantis previously complained that he didn't know about the hacking until Mueller's report was released. On Tuesday he said federal officials did not inform the Florida Law Enforcement Department or others who were high in Scott's administration about the incident.

The FBI told DeSantis that Florida Department of Law Enforcement employees were serving on a cyber security taskforce were aware of Russia's disruption. DeSantis said that it was not clear why this information was not shared with best state officials.

"At the time it probably wasn't like a big deal" as it happened before the rigorous scrutiny of Russia's potential interference occurred, the governor said.

DeSantis still said that he is trying to find out who in the state government might be aware of the hacking.

The FBI called for a conference with local election supervisors in September 2016 to warn them of Russia's efforts. San San Sancho, who was in charge of elections in the state capital at the time, said on Twitter that the FBI told local and state election officials that no wording had taken place. "

Sancho, who spent almost thirty years as an election supervisor in Leon County, showed on Tuesday that there was a suspected thorough examination to ensure that the hacking effort did not affect anything.

DeSantis said Tuesday that federal officials on Florida spoke of being "ahead of the curve" in order to prepare their voting systems before next year's presidential election, but said "getting out of threats so I don't want to say 'Hey, there's no more threats there.'

State legislators set aside $ 2.8 million in cyber security grants during this year's legislative session, but did not approve funding for the deployment of cyber security staff by the Department of State.

Marc Caputo added to this story.

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