Following reports that St. Lucie County was one of two counties in Florida hacked by Russians in 2016, Congressman Brian Mast says voters in St. Lucie County and throughout the country should be concerned heading into the November election — but Supervisor of Elections Gertrude Walker continues to deny the hack ever happened.
According to a CNN report, Bob Woodward’s new book contains revelations about Russian election interference, and names St. Lucie County as one of the counties affected.
Woodward writes that the Russians were able to place malware in the election registration systems in Florida’s St. Lucie and Washington counties, but that there is no evidence the malware was activated.
In 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis revealed Russian hackers intruded into two Florida county’s elections systems but did not disclose which two counties. He said there was no evidence of voter manipulation as a result of those hacks.
U.S. Rep. Mast said he received a classified briefing on the matter and is asking for federal officials to de-classify the information to voters who can understand what happened.
“Every person that is a legal voter deserves to know deep down to their core that their vote matters,” Mast said.
“We appropriated $400 million for election security in 2019, and that was granted to the states,” he said. “What are counties like this doing to fix that problem, and secure the system?”
Last year, officials from the St. Lucie Supervisor of Elections Office categorically denied that their election system was one of the two hacked by Russians.
Now, Rep. Mast is saying Supervisor Gertrude Walker lied.
“For something like that to be said, in the absence of it being true, that’s a very real problem,” he said.
Rep. Mast sent a letter to Walker this week, asking for a briefing about election security.
Josephine Wolff, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity Policy at Tufts University, told CBS12 News that the malware could pose a number of threats to elections systems.
First, she explained, a hacker could hold voter information for ransom and demand payments from governments who need voter rolls for an election.
Second, Wolff said, a hacker might use malware to make changes to voter roll information, deleting names, changing information, or even adding names that didn’t belong in the system.
A third possibility, she said, is to “sow chaos and make people mistrust an election.”
She said voters should be concerned that it has taken years for this information to become public.
“We are never going to be able to perfectly protect our elections, but we would like to think that when things go wrong, there will be a certain level of transparency about that,” Wolff said.