Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure in 2016, a spokesperson for Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner said Tuesday, despite what appears to be confirmation that a phishing email was sent to state elections offices and news reports indicate that federal officials believe the Russians were behind it.
"The Florida Department of State participated in an informational call with the FBI related to elections security at the end of September 2016, said Sarah Revell, spokesperson for the agency that oversees Florida's elections system. "But there was no indication of a Florida-specific issue."
She denied there were any successful hacking attempts from the phishing emails investigated by the National Security Administration. The investigation was first reported by The Intercept, an online national security news outlet that said it obtained a copy of the NSA’s classified intelligence report, dated May 5.
"There are multiple safeguards in place to protect against elections fraud and prevent any possible hacking attempts from being successful,'' Revell said. "The Florida Voter Registration System (FVRS) database is secure and we have no indication that any unauthorized access occurred. Steps taken to secure databases include implementing software, hardware and firewalls to protect information."
In Florida, voter registration data and the software used to count votes are on two separate electronic systems, as Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel emphasized on his Facebook page.
“Important: Even if the bad guys would have accessed our local registration files (which they didn’t), those files are in no way connected to vote counting,” Ertel wrote on Facebook. “I’ve said it hundreds of times: ‘You can’t hack paper.’ Seminole County votes on trusted paper ballots.”
Revell noted that because all voting in Florida is done on paper ballots, there is an opportunity to double-check the final vote with the original record.
"The only exception in law permits voters with disabilities to vote on accessible equipment that meetings voting system accessibility requirements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act,'' she said. "Additionally, voting machines are not connected to the internet."