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DeSantis Says Russia Hacked Two County Election Systems, Stole Data

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at a podium in his Press Office
Blaise Gainey

Governor Ron DeSantis says voter data was stolen in 2016 when election systems in two Florida counties were hacked. Previous reporters had identified only one county, but DeSantis says  the breach didn’t impact voting.

During the 2016 race, former Florida Democratic Sen.  Bill Nelson warned of a possible Russian hack and said Russian operatives had gotten into one Florida county's election system.  His Republican opponent, then-governor Rick Scott, dismissed the warning as a scare tactic and pressed Nelson to prove his claim. Now, Governor Ron DeSantis says two Florida county election systems were infiltrated by actors affiliated with Russia. DeSantis says the FBI assures him that the voter information they accessed was publicly available, and that it didn’t affect any outcomes.

"Obviously for me my main concern is that people go in, they vote, the vote gets counted and we have a fair result," he told reporters Tuesday during a hastily-called press conference. "And so if you look at what they [Russian operatives] accessed,  that [information] would not have been able to do that."

DeSantis also says the previous administration was not notified at the time.

The information regarding hacking was disclosed in special counsel Robert Mueller's report about Russian interference in the 2016 election. It was a phishing attack via email, which came from the Tallahassee-based firm VR Systems. 

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.