Texas dis­putes De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity’s claim

Top of­fi­cial says that state was not tar­geted by Rus­sian hack­ers

The Dallas Morning News - - State - Shan­non Na­jmabadi, Texas Tri­bune

A top state of­fi­cial is push­ing back against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s claim that Texas was among states whose elec­tion sys­tems were tar­geted by Rus­sian hack­ers ahead of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“At no point were any elec­tion-re­lated sys­tems, soft­ware, or in­for­ma­tion com­pro­mised by ma­li­cious cy­ber ac­tors,” Texas Sec­re­tary of State Rolando Pab­los wrote in a let­ter to the U.S. De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity on Thurs­day.

Last week, the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said the elec­tion in­fra­struc­ture of 21 states, in­clud­ing Texas, was tar­geted by Rus­sian hack­ers. Be­ing tar­geted does not mean that votes were changed but that a sys­tem was scanned.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, of­fi­cials in Cal­i­for­nia and Wis­con­sin said they’d re­ceived con­tra­dic­tory in­for­ma­tion from the de­part­ment that sug­gested they’d been in­cor­rectly in­cluded on that list.

Pab­los, in his let­ter, made a sim­i­lar claim and asked the de­part­ment to “cor­rect its er­ro­neous no­ti­fi­ca­tion” that the state agency’s web­site had been the tar­get of ma­li­cious hack­ers. Pab­los ar­gued that fed­eral of­fi­cials had based their as­sess­ment on “in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion” and that an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by his of­fice with the state’s De­part­ment of In­for­ma­tion Re­sources had found no such tar­get­ing.

“In or­der to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence in the in­tegrity of our elec­tions sys­tems, it is im­per­a­tive for DHS to fur­ther clar­ify the in- for­ma­tion pro­vided,” the let­ter says. “Our of­fice un­der­stands that you have pro­vided sim­i­lar clar­i­fi­ca­tion to elec­tion of­fi­cials in Wis­con­sin and Cal­i­for­nia. We re­spect­fully re­quest you pro­vide the same clar­i­fi­ca­tion to the State of Texas.”

A De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity spokesman told Reuters on Thurs­day that “ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and clar­ity” had been pro­vided to sev­eral states, and that the de­part­ment stood by its as­sess­ment.

But Sam Tay­lor, a spokesman for the Texas Sec­re­tary of State, said Fri­day that the is­sue re­mained un­set­tled.

“Our of­fice is hop­ing to have a con­ver­sa­tion with DHS in the com­ing days to re­ceive ad­di­tional clar­i­fi­ca­tion on this is­sue,” Tay­lor said.

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