By: Capitol News Service | WCTV Eyewitness News
Updated - August 10, 2018
Cropped Photo: Joebeone / Wikipedia / CC BY 2.5
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Elections supervisors are reacting after U.S. Senator Bill Nelson announced some Florida counties' voter databases have been penetrated by Russian hackers.
The Florida Association of Supervisor of Elections says it was not aware of any breaches prior to Nelson’s comments, but are not surprised that the Russians would be trying to interfere.
Executive Director Ron Labasky says the news adds to the need to prioritize the strengthening of elections systems.
“We have been working diligently for the last 18 months to ensure that we've fortified our registration system and our methodology,” said Labasky. "So, that no one can get into the system without us stopping it or knowing about it and then stopping it.”
$19 million in federal funds have been approved to beef up the state’s elections systems. The hope is to put the money into action before November.
Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley also issued a statement on Friday in response to the reports. The complete statement is available below:
"A recent published report claims Russian operatives have "… penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," in an attempt to disrupt the voter registration rolls and the voting process. While this report is troubling, it has not been corroborated by any law enforcement or security agencies we are in contact with.
"My office and I are working very closely on a daily basis with Homeland Security, the Florida Department of State, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, other elections offices across the state, our county IT staff, and private vendors, all to ensure that every step is taken to protect our systems.
"We have received no official reports or alerts suggesting that any of our systems have been penetrated.
"If there are other elections offices in Florida who have been penetrated, and I have had reassurances from many sources that is not the case, then I would expect that both federal and state officials would alert those offices, and would deploy teams to aid those offices in improving their security and in neutralizing the threat.
"I have no evidence of any such activity or response to a penetration.
"So let me reassure our voters that although there are powerful adversaries trying to undermine our elections, we are working diligently, in partnership with many other agencies, to make certain your elections remain secure and trustworthy.
"The great threat to our democracy is voters staying away from the polls due to fear and apathy. I ask you to do your part for our community and our nation, please vote."