The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee said the panel will soon issue recommendations to help states thwart Russian efforts to hack election systems in advance of congressional primaries that begin in March. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, who serves as vice chairman, said the committee could release its plan this month or next. The first congressional primary is less than two months away — March 6 in Texas. “I do think there’s a real sense of urgency,” Warner said in an interview with USA TODAY. “The one thing we do know with certainty is that Russian interference in our elections did not end on Election Day 2016.” Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., also has indicated that he expects the committee to provide security advice to states early this year.
The Russian government attempted to hack election systems in 21 states in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security said last September. The key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin were among those targeted.
Most of those efforts failed, and there was no evidence that any votes were changed. However, in Illinois, Russian hackers gained entry to the state’s voter database and to the personal information of more than 90,000 voters, including their dates of birth, driver’s licenses and partial Social Security numbers.