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Nelson says Russians have hacked some Florida voter registration systems

Florida Department of State says it has 'zero information' supporting claim

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – The Florida Department of State is calling out U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, on his claim that some of the state's voter registration systems have been hacked by the Russians.

Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that Russian operatives "have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about."

However, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State said it has received "zero information" supporting Nelson's statement.

"Additionally, the Department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Sen. Nelson's statement and we have no evidence to support these claims," spokeswoman Sarah Revell said. "If Sen. Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida."

Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, wrote a July 2 letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner warning of possible Russian tampering in the upcoming midterm elections and recommending "a wide range of services to state and local officials" be made available by the Department of Homeland Security, but it lacked specifics like Nelson suggested.

If certain counties in the state have, in fact, been hacked, which ones were they? Nelson isn't saying.

"We have no indication at this time that a county system, or one of our valued partners, has been breached," Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections Christina White said. "We continue to work closely with the county's Information Technology Department to ensure the ongoing security and confidentiality of elections systems."

Revell said the state has already taken "significant steps to ensure the security and integrity" of the elections, including counties utilizing $1.9 million in funding to purchase a network monitoring security solution that provides automated alerts about system threats.

"Counties are also using $15.5 million in funding to make significant investments in election security prior to the 2018 elections," Revell said.