A variety of intelligence gathered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including some that is secret, led to the conclusion that Wisconsin’s elections system had been targeted last year by Russia, state election leaders said Friday. Elections officials repeated, as they said last week, there’s no evidence that Wisconsin’s elections systems were compromised or that Russian scans of state websites resulted in a security breach. “These scanning attempts were unremarkable, except for the fact that (the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) later identified their source as being Russian government cyber actors,” said Michael Haas, the state’s elections administrator, and Mark Thomsen, chairman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, in a joint statement. The commission’s update Friday was the latest effort to explain fully what happened with the reported Russian run at Wisconsin’s systems, and the first to cite intelligence as a foundation for the federal report.
Homeland Security said last week that Wisconsin was one of 21 states whose elections systems were targeted by “Russian government cyber actors.”
That created confusion among state leaders, who had never been told previously about being a target. On Tuesday, Homeland Security informed the state that it was actually a Department of Workforce Development website, not the voter registration database, that had been scanned.
Then on Thursday, Homeland Security said that just because elections systems weren’t scanned in some states didn’t mean they weren’t a target.