DHS: Kremlin 'successfully penetrated' some state voter rolls in 2016

Russians targeted 21 states' voter registration rolls during the 2016 presidential election. Five states, including Texas and California, said they were never attacked.

Jeanette Manfra, the head of cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), said Wednesday that Russian Federation successfully penetrated the voter registration rolls in several USA states prior to the 2016 presidential election, according to NBC News.

"We saw a targeting of 21 states and an exceptionally small number of them were actually successfully penetrated", Manfra said in the interview, insisting she had "no doubt" it was the Russian government.

Manfra's interview arrived alongside other US officials' recent warnings that Russian hackers may attempt to influence the 2018 midterm elections. The State Secretary added that "this is something that once they decide they're going to do it, it's very hard to preempt it". Johnson says the nation's electoral systems are a part of the nation's federally protected critical infrastructure and could be targeted by hackers.

Manfra disagreed, saying, the states "have all taken it seriously".

Numerous states contacted by NBC said that the federal government didn't give them enough information on the hacks, and state officials can't read the report themselves because it's top secret.

Elaine Duke, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has told lawmakers that the lack of a long-term budget limits DHS' capacity to carry out major programs and lessens manpower needed to address priorities, the Homeland Preparedness News reported Wednesday. But Johnson said he is concerned that many states have done little or nothing at all to boost their cybersecurity. However, Manfra says there's now no wait list at the DHS and they are obligated to help everyone.

State officials have criticized Johnson's actions and believe it is a federal intrusion.

  • Rogelio Becker