The 2016 elections may have just been the beginning. Russian hackers attacked voter databases and software systems in 39 states during last year’s elections, and authorities fear that while the tampering may not have affected vote totals, it’s possible Russia learned enough from the attacks to put 2020’s presidential election in its crosshairs, sources with knowledge of the U.S. investigation told Bloomberg. The report, published Tuesday morning, said Illinois investigators discovered that hackers attempted to delete or alter voter data in the state’s voter database. (California and Florida were the only other states directly mentioned.) The Illinois database held some 15 million names—half were active voters—and 90,000 records were potentially compromised.
While there appears to be no evidence that the hackers were able to affect the election’s outcome, likely because they did not have enough time to fully process and understand the country’s entire voting system, a senior U.S. official told Bloomberg about fears that Russia could hone what it learned over the next three-and-a-half years and that “there is every reason to believe” 2020’s election could be a future target.
Another theory is that Russia didn’t completely go for the election’s throat because of warnings issued by President Barack Obama. During September’s G-20 summit, Obama said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin to “knock off” the hacking attempts, but the leaks of Democratic National Committee emails continued, according to NBC News.