Election 2016

Russia's Attempts to Influence the Presidential Election Were Worse Than You Thought

Russia's attempted influence in the presidential election went so far as to impact 39 states' voting software.

Photo Credit: Niyazz / Shutterstock

A new report indicates that Russia’s efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election went far beyond their alleged hacking of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and leaking of documents to their puppets at Wikileaks.

Russian hackers managed to breach voter databases and software systems in 39 states, sometimes with the goal of tampering with or eliminating existing voter data, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“Last year, as we detected intrusions into websites managed by election officials around the country, the administration worked relentlessly to protect our election infrastructure. Given that our election systems are so decentralized, that effort meant working with Democratic and Republican election administrators from all across the country to bolster their cyber defenses,” said Eric Schultz, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama.

Illinois was “Patient Zero” in the government’s investigation into Russian meddling, Bloomberg reported, after a contractor there noticed unauthorized data was leaving the system in July.

Although Obama used the famous “red phone” (literally a secure channel of communication between the United States and Russia) to warn Russia that continuing their attacks could lead to a severe deterioration in the nations’ bilateral relationship, he refrained from going public with the full extent of Russia’s attempted meddling. His concern, it seems, was that doing so would undermine the voters’ confidence in the integrity of the election process.

document leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Reality Winner also shed light on the extent of the Russian hacking efforts, which were previously not known to the public. Winner had been public in the past about her deep dislike for President Donald Trump.


Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and his work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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