Election systems in several states, including California, may have been hacked by Russian-backed covert operators, according to a new report from NBC News.
At least seven states were affected by the hacks according to the report that cited unnamed sources referred to as senior intelligence officials, but none of the states involved were told about the tampering.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla sought to reassure Californians today, saying that the state voting database is secure and that if federal officials know something he doesn't, they need to let him know too.
A report requested by President Barack Obama during his last weeks in office showed that seven states had their state websites or databases compromised by Russian operatives. According to the report, the seven states included Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin.
Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, denied NBC News' report, saying the news organization's interpretation of the facts was not accurate.
As we have consistently said, DHS has shared information with affected states in a timely manner, and we will continue to do so. We have no intelligence – new or old – that corroborates NBC’s reporting that state systems in 7 states were compromised by Russian government actors.
The report did not expand on whether any votes were changed by the hack, or if anyone's voter registration information had been changed.
Six of the seven states deny that they were breached based on their own investigations of the 2016 election. Illinois detected a 'malicious' cyberattack on their systems during the summer of 2016, saying their voter rolls had been accessed, but no information was altered.
"We have an extreme sense of urgency on insuring security of the 2018 elections, because you don't get a chance to do it over," said Alex Padilla told NBC News. "It is hugely imperative that intelligence be shared with state elections officials immediately in order to protect our election infrastructure and the integrity of election results."