Florida Election Officials Contradict Nelson, Say No Evidence Russians Hacked Voting Systems

Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson / Getty Images
August 9, 2018

Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) made waves Wednesday when he asserted Russians had compromised voting systems in his state, but elections officials said Thursday they haven’t seen any sign of interference.

The Florida Department of State as well as county election officials told the Sun-Sentinel they’ve received no information from Nelson or his staff about emerging threats to the election system.

"Additionally, the department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Sen. Nelson's statement and we have no evidence to support these claims," the Florida Department of State said in a statement. "If Sen. Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida."

Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes said neither the federal government nor Nelson have notified them about any penetration of their system. She said she doesn’t know of any problems.

"We have had absolutely no information regarding that," Snipes said. "We have not seen anything with our system that something strange is going on."

National intelligence and homeland security officials have warned that election systems may be threatened in the midterm elections. Russian interference in the 2016 election has garnered a wealth of attention, leading to congressional investigations as well as Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, but evidence has not come out that Russia tampered with any voting systems.

Nelson, the ranking member of the cyber subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, grabbed headlines when he said Russian operatives penetrated Florida’s systems.

"They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times. "The threat is real and elections officials — at all levels — need to address the vulnerabilities."

Nelson is running for reelection in November against the Sunshine State’s sitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott, whose office said $14.5 million has been distributed to counties to secure elections. Another million is pledged to go out to protect the integrity of the midterms.

"I am going to do everything I can to make sure that we don’t have any impact on our elections," Scott said last month.