'No, Russians didn't hack Florida voting,' election supervisor says

Central Florida counties election systems among those targeted by Russians

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – In the days leading up to the 2016 election, several Florida elections offices received phishing emails that were part of a Russian cyberattack, according to a report by the National Security Agency.

The target of the attempted hack was VR Systems, an election system company based in Tallahassee.

VR Systems are used in Seminole and Volusia counties, where election officials confirmed to News 6 on Tuesday that both received the malicious email but were not affected.

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel said his office did receive the phishing email and took measures to make sure they were not impacted.

“No, Russians didn’t hack Florida voting,” Ertel said Tuesday in an online response.

“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,” he wrote.

Seminole County uses paper ballots and “you can’t hack paper,” Ertel said.

Read his full response here.

Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis also told News 6 that her office received an email Nov. 1 warning them of a possible fraudulent email. 

"We did receive an email on Nov. 7, 2016, however, (we) did not open the attachment," Lewis said.

Both Seminole and Volusia county officials added that voter-registration records are in no way connected to ballot counting.

Election supervisors in Citrus, Clay and Pasco counties said they, too, got the emails, but also did not open them, the Tampa Bay Times reported Tuesday.

The New York Times and Intercept reported that two hacking attempts were made by Russia’s military intelligence prior to the 2016 election, one on Aug. 24 and again on Nov. 7.

The vendor hack in Florida prompted the FBI to coordinate an emergency call with county election supervisors who operate the election system in the perennial battleground state. 

An FBI spokeswoman said the bureau and the Department of Homeland Security hosted a conference call with Florida state officials to address questions regarding the security of election systems and to share information regarding the general nature of the cyberthreat. FBI and DHS continue to work closely with state officials to assist them in safeguarding their election infrastructures.

VR Systems issued this statement Monday about the fraudulent emails:

“When a customer alerted us to an obviously fraudulent email purporting to come from VR Systems, we immediately notified all our customers and advised them not to click on the attachment. We are only aware of a handful of our customers who actually received the fraudulent email and of those, we have no indication that any of them clicked on the attachment or were compromised as a result.”

The company added that it had policies and procedures in place to protect their customers.

Jason Olson and CNN contributed to this report.