- Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told The New York Times that Russian hackers had infiltrated Florida’s county-level election systems in 2016.
- Though hackers “were in a position” to alter voter roll data, Rubio said they didn’t appear to do so.
- Rubio’s comment comes after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report said the FBI believed Russian intelligence unit GRU had successfully gained access to data in “at least one Florida county government.”
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a New York Times article published Friday that Russian hackers had infiltrated Florida’s county-level election systems in 2016.
Rubio detailed the attack to the Times, which included malicious viruses sent by the GRU, a Russian military intelligence unit, to government officials who were handling 2016 county elections.
Though the hackers “were in a position” to alter voter roll data, Rubio said, they didn’t appear to do so.
The Republican senator’s comments come after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report said the FBI believed the GRU had successfully gained access to the “network of at least one Florida county government.”
Florida has been at the center of Russian hacking concerns for years, but Mueller’s report furthered official conclusions on the hacking. The Tampa Bay Times reported last week that the agency would meet with state officials weeks after the election hacking report.
This is the latest development in the state’s concerns over hacking since tensions boiled over during the race for November’s midterms last year.
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson set off concerns in August 2018 when he said, without offering evidence, that the Russians had penetrated state voting systems and were interfering in the state’s 2018 campaigns.
After the incumbent was pressed and produced no evidence, Nelson’s then-challenger Sen. Rick Scott publicly suggested he had made up the claim.
Rubio’s recent comment contradicts Scott’s hits against Nelson’s claim and is a confirmation of his previous warnings that state systems should be wary of hackers who could easily manipulate voter data.
“If anyone tells you that Florida, or any state in the country is prepared to handle that, I don’t believe that’s true,” Rubio said. “It almost feels like what they did in 2016 is probing those things in the future because…they wanted to create havoc around the world.”
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