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Russian Hackers Could've Deleted Or Altered Voter Registration Data, But Apparently Didn't, Report Reveals

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Russian hackers reportedly had the capability to delete voters from the rolls in certain states, but chose not to do so, according to a Senate intelligence report released on Tuesday.


The announcement came from the office of Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), co-chair of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into 2016 election meddling independently of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team of prosecutors.

In the report, Burr details how in 18 states, voter registration information was scanned by Russian cyber-intruders and in some instances, voter information was accessed, but was not manipulated. The report also states that no evidence exists of changes to vote totals.

"Cyber actors affiliated with the Russian government scanned state systems extensively throughout the 2016 election cycle. These cyber actors made attempts to access numerous state election systems, and in a small number of cases accessed voter registration databases. o At least 18 states had election systems targeted by Russian-affiliated cyber actors in some fashion.

  1. 1 Elements of the IC have varying levels of confidence about three additional states, for a possible total of at least 21.
  2. In addition, other states saw suspicious or malicious behavior the IC has been unable to attribute to Russia.
  3. Almost all of the states that were targeted observed vulnerability scanning directed at their Secretary of State websites or voter registration infrastructure. Other scans were broader or less specific in their target.
  4. In at least six states, the Russian-affiliated cyber actors went beyond scanning and conducted malicious access attempts on voting-related websites.2 In a small number of states, Russian-affiliated cyber actors were able to gain access to restricted elements of election infrastructure. In a small number of states, these cyber actors were in a position to, at a minimum, alter or delete voter registration data; however, they did not appear to be in a position to manipulate individual votes or aggregate vote totals."

The report is the latest swath of proof that actors inside the Russian government, and its affiliates, attempted to interfere or directly interfered with the 2016 presidential election. President Donald Trump has been reluctant to accept this conclusion, despite corroborating reports between all 17 United States intelligence agencies. The Trump administration has, however, imposed sanctions on Russia and individuals involved in the attack upon our democracy.

"The Committee does not know whether the Russian government-affiliated actors intended to exploit vulnerabilities during the 2016 elections and decided against taking action, or whether they were merely gathering information and testing capabilities for a future attack. Regardless, the Committee believes the activity indicates an intent to go beyond traditional intelligence collection."

These actions are limited in scope, as little is being done to protect voting machines in the upcoming midterm elections in November. The information detailed in Burr's report also detract from the findings of the House Intelligence Committee, led by Congressmen Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), which closed its investigation after stating it found no evidence of any collusion. Schiff has said the Republican-dominated committee is obfuscating the truth and undermining the American intelligence community.