NC elections officials investigate alleged Russian hacking efforts

Posted June 6, 2017 4:02 p.m. EDT
Updated June 6, 2017 10:27 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina elections officials said Tuesday that they are "actively investigating" reports that Russian hackers attacked a U.S. voting software supplier days before last year's presidential election.

The allegation came to light Monday after digital magazine The Intercept published a classified National Security Agency report that says Russian military intelligence attacked a U.S. voting software company and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials at the end of October or beginning of November.

"This agency takes any reports of possible interference with our election processes very seriously," North Carolina elections director Kim Strach said in a statement.

The State Board of Elections identified the software company as VR Systems, which provides electronic poll book software to 21 counties to help check in voters who show up to cast ballots in person on Election Day.

The counties that use the system are Ashe, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Craven, Cumberland, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Gaston, Gates, Granville, Halifax, Hyde, Johnston, Mecklenburg, Nash, Rowan, Sampson, Vance, Warren and Wilson.

Some Durham County precincts experienced problems last November with their electronic sign-in system and had to revert to signing voters in through paper poll books, forcing some to stay open late because of delays. It's unclear whether those issues are linked to the alleged hacking.

Strach said the software doesn't play any role in ballot marking or vote tabulation.

"So, in no way, even if this attack was successful by Russia, was this affecting the outcome of our election," said state Board of Elections spokesman Joshua Lawson. "So, It's important for people to realize that they can have confidence that their votes counted.

Lawson said that even though 21 North Carolina counties used the VR Systems software, there is no evidence their systems were compromised.