Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirmed to The New York Times on Friday that hackers penetrated a Florida county’s elections system in 2016.
Rubio’s confirmation comes a week after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed that Russians sent malicious software to Florida county government officials overseeing the 2016 election.
Rubio told The Times that there was an intrusion into a county’s elections system but that the target or targets were not notified and that the information was gleaned through an intelligence operation, not a criminal investigation.
In order to protect intelligence methods, Rubio said national security officials chose to issue a general warning to everyone.
“Everybody has been told what it is they need to do to protect themselves from the intrusion,” Rubio said. “I don’t believe the specific victims of the intrusion have been notified. The concern was that in a number of counties across the country, there are a couple of people with the attitude of: ‘We’ve got this; we don’t need your help. We don’t think we need to do what you are telling us we need to do.’”
Rubio told the Times that the hackers were “in a position” to change voter roll data, but it does not appear they did so.
“My biggest concern is that on Election Day you go vote and have mass confusion because voter registration information has been deleted from the systems,” he said.
Rubio and former Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) wrote a letter to Florida’s top election official last year calling on him to seek federal assistance in securing the state’s elections systems.
The Hill reports:
A spokesperson for Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told The Hill on Friday that “the FBI has reached out and is working on scheduling a briefing with Senator Scott in the next few weeks” to brief him and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) about the hacking detailed in Mueller’s report.
Scott, who was governor during the 2016 election, sent a letter to the FBI last week asking to confirm the hacking. For his part, DeSantis has expressed frustration with what he says is a lack of transparency from federal authorities.
“They won’t tell us which county it was, are you kidding me?” he said at a Thursday press conference in Miami. “Why would you have not said something immediately?”