(UPDATE, July 27, 7:30 p.m.) HELENA-Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton says Russians attempted to interfere in the state’s election in 2016.
In a July newsletter from his office, Stapleton said Montana was one of a number of states that were “scanned for weaknesses in our election systems.”
He said there has been no evidence of actual hacking in Montana, and that no one’s votes were affected. But, he added, “there was a clear and significant threat” to fair U.S. elections.
Stapleton told MTN his office had previously heard from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that there had been attempts to probe the state’s election security. He said, at a recent conference of the National Association of Secretaries of State, the department shared more information about those attempts, and confirmed they had come from “Russian actors.”
Stapleton said the Secretary of State’s office is working together with federal and state agencies to improve Montana’s election security.
“What’s significant is that, as a result of all that, we’re doing a lot of things that have never been done before,” he said.
In the newsletter, he pointed to improvements like two-factor authentication for all Montana counties, new IT systems and improved signature verification for mail ballots. He told MTN he plans to work with the National Guard and have them test whether they can break into the system.
Despite improvements, Stapleton expressed several concerns in the newsletter, including the federal government’s growing involvement in local elections, continued security of mail ballots and digital election platforms and consistency in personnel and training at local county election offices around the state.
Original post below:
HELENA-In a July newsletter sent from the Montana Secretary of State’s office, Corey Stapleton says Russians tried to influence Montana’s election in 2016.
Stapleton gives little details, but says Montana was among the states that “were scanned for weaknesses in our elections systems.”
He adds, “Though no votes were changed by the Russians in our 2016 election cycle, there was a clear and significant threat” to fair U.S. elections.
In the newsletter, the Secretary of State says his office is working with state and federal agencies to improve the state’s election security.
Some of the security improvement mentioned include two-factor authentication for all Montana counties, new IT systems and improved signature verification for mail ballots.
Despite these improvements, Stapleton expressed concerns in the federal government’s growing involvement in local elections, continued security of mail ballots and digital election platforms as well as consistency in personnel and training at local county election offices around the state.
This is a developing story, we will update you when we have more information.