The federal Department of Homeland Security reversed itself Tuesday and told Wisconsin officials that the Russian government had not tried to hack the state’s voter registration system last year. Instead, Homeland Security said, the Russians had attempted to access a computer system controlled by another state agency. The development — disclosed during a meeting of the Wisconsin Elections Commission — came four days after federal officials told the state that Russians had tried to hack systems in Wisconsin and 20 other states. Juan Figueroa, a member of Homeland Security’s election infrastructure team, on Tuesday told state officials by email that Wisconsin’s voter registration system had not been targeted in a hacking attempt after all. He said Russians had tried to access a computer system run by the state Department of Workforce Development.
“One additional follow-up from our analysis team before this is shared publicly, based on our external analysis, the WI IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission,” Figueroa wrote in his email.
He did not explain why inaccurate information had been provided to the state on Friday. He did not respond to questions from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Either someone was right on Friday and this memo today is a coverup or they were wrong on Friday and we deserve an apology,” said Mark Thomsen, chairman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission.