State Officials Working to Maintain Voting Integrity Following Russian Hack Attempt

Oct 5, 2017

Credit AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki

As voters begin casting absentee ballots in Election 2017, new details are emerging about the role Russia played in Virginia’s election last year.

About a year ago, leaders at the Department of Elections noticed something odd — the equivalent of a burglar checking the locks on the doors to its website.

“There were IP addresses traced back to Russia that scanned our public-facing websites.”

That’s Edgardo Cortes at the Virginia Department of Elections.

“Scanning is kind of like an activity before you even try to do anything to go to somebody’s web sites and figure out hey are there any potential holes here?”

State officials reported it to the FBI, although they say no attempt was ever made to gain access to any actual election equipment. Virginia was one of 21 states where Russians attempted to hack into election systems.

“It’s always something that gives us some pause when we know there are people out there trying to do things to impact our election process.”

This year, election officials are getting an extra $1 million to fund everything from new servers to a full-time cybersecurity professional at the Department of Elections. They’ve also scrapped touch-screen voting machines in favor of paper ballots.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.