With yesterday’s Bloomberg story that the Russian had attacked the election systems of up to 39 states, we wondered if Kentucky was one of those states. According to a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office: No.
Bradford Queen, Director of Communications for SOS Allison Lundergan Grimes, replied to our inquiry by stating
Kentucky’s election systems were secure during the 2016 elections. Our office and the State Board of Elections vigilantly works to ensure the security of our election systems. Throughout the 2016 cycle, we worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to further enhance our security.
When pressed as to whether our systems were even attacked, he further replied
I am not aware of any attempted cyberattacks against any of our election systems. With regard to the Bloomberg report you mentioned, our office is not able to assess the credibility or the accuracy of the piece and we have no information of our own nor from DHS nor any intelligence agency suggesting Kentucky was targeted.
It is, of course, possible that there were attacks against various parts of our “election systems” (see below), and those attempts were dealt with by the IT department as part of their normal duties, as is done by IT security teams at any large company or institution. Such attempted breaches of systems, which happen every day all across the internet, would not necessarily have been reported unless successful. Based on the statements above, there were no attacks against our systems that were serious enough to come to the attention of the senior staff.
One other point needs to be made: The Bloomberg report is primarily about attacks against voter registration systems, not voting systems. The goals of the attacks were two-fold: to gather voter registration data for targeted misinformation campaigns, and to disrupt voting by changing voter registrations. To this point, there has not been definitive proof that actual votes or vote totals were changed. Nevertheless, this attack on our overall ability to hold fair and open elections is a threat to our democratic form of government, and must be taken seriously. As noted by Ben Carter today in a Twitter thread, “Any Democratic candidate for Secretary of State must educate him/herself on the technical & legal threats to our election integrity.”
The good news is that for now, it appears that Kentucky’s systems are secure. The bad news is that, as James Comey said, the Russians are coming … and we have to get ready.