Florida officials want more information from the U.S. Senate supporting claims made by Senator Bill Nelson that Russian operatives have penetrated some of his state’s election systems.
“Florida officials want more information from US Senate about election hacking claims by Sen. Bill Nelson”
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) August 10, 2018
Nelson, Florida’s Democratic Senator, issued a major wakeup call on Wednesday when he said that Russian operatives have penetrated Florida’s election systems ahead of the 2018 elections.
Nelson told The Tampa Bay Times, “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about.” According to the Times, “Nelson said the same thing a day earlier when he was in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate.”
“That’s classified,” he said at the time.
The Times also reports that it’s not just the Democratic senator who is raising a red flag. His fellow Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio, is also concerned about election meddling.
“Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has raised alarms and continues to express concern,” the Times article said. “Like Rubio, Nelson outlined a scenario in which hackers could delete people from voter rolls.”
Now Florida election officials want more information from the U.S. Senate supporting Nelson’s claims. Since the senator said that Russians have penetrated Florida’s election systems they want proof. On Thursday Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner sent a letter requesting the information to Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“NEW: FL Sec of St Ken Detzner sends letter to @SenatorBurr, says he’s “very concerned” w/ @SenBillNelson‘s claims of Russia hacking Florida elections records. “Let me be clear, this is a very serious charge made in a public setting w/o any evidence…”
NEW: FL Sec of St Ken Detzner sends letter to @SenatorBurr, says he's "very concerned" w/ @SenBillNelson's claims of Russia hacking Florida elections records. "Let me be clear, this is a very serious charge made in a public setting w/o any evidence…" pic.twitter.com/NoHSgvjyB8
— Ramsey Touchberry (@ramsberry1) August 9, 2018
When Nelson told the Times that certain counties had been penetrated by Russians he refused to identify the counties, so Detzner said he would like that information. The statement from Detzner said that his office has “no evidence to support Nelson’s claims.” Detzner says he also reached out to federal law enforcement and was told they couldn’t corroborate the hacking claims either.
Since Nelson’s comments created a lot of discussion and controversy, it is right for the Florida Secretary of State to follow up and try to get to the truth of the matter. If what Nelson is saying is true — and many people believe it is — then something needs to be done ASAP.
Nelson is up for reelection this year and is running against popular Trump-supporting Republican governor Rick Scott, and the polls show them in a virtual tie. Therefore Nelson has even more reason to be concerned. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri already confirmed that her reelection computer systems were breached.
As we said on Wednesday:
“These threats are doubly disturbing given the fact that, despite widespread concern within in his own party and the U.S. intelligence apparatus, Donald Trump is asleep at the wheel on this issue.”
Let’s hope that election officials in Florida will get the information they’ve requested and take steps to prevent Russians from taking over Florida’s election systems this year.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.