The head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security Jeanette Manfra confirmed today that a significant number of U.S. states had their voter registration rolls targeted by hackers during the 2016 election. A number of states actually had their systems breached.
Manfra said she couldn’t discuss classified information publicly but said, “We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated.” Asked whether there was any doubt that the hacking efforts originated from the Russian government Manfra replied, “no doubt.”
Former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson declared the country’s electoral systems “critical infrastructure,” in January of last year, weeks before leaving office. The designation makes the protection of state voting systems an official function of DHS. Johnson attempted to affect the designation prior to the 2016 election but many states resisted the move, calling it an attempted government takeover of voting systems. Most states now appear to be more receptive to federal protections.
State officials who reject federal help in fortifying their systems ahead of the midterm elections this year and beyond are being “naïve” and “irresponsible to the people that [they’re] supposed to serve,” Johnson said.