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Election Officials In Ohio and 20 Other States Confirm They Were Targeted By Hackers In 2016

Photo of Jon Husted

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has reached out to elections officials in Ohio and 20 other states, which have confirmed they were targeted by hackers during the 2016 election. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports Ohio’s chief elections official said he thinks the story isn't as shocking as it may seem.

Secretary of State Jon Husted has said several times Ohio’s vote counting system could not be hacked because it’s not online. He confirms that an IP address did try to access Ohio’s elections system last year for less than a second, but couldn’t get in and nothing was compromised. Husted calls the situation exaggerated.

“This particular IP address tried to get into our system. It was an attempt that lasted less than a second. If I were to try to put it in common terms, it’s like somebody walking up to a bank, pulling on the handle, finding that the door was locked and they just moved on.

“I don’t believe that anything in 2016 happened that deserves the attention that this story is getting.”

Husted says the only access point a hacker might find is to the statewide voter database, but that’s backed up daily. And he notes his office has worked on securing the system with the Ohio National Guard and the federal government.

Seven of the 21 states that were targeted were considered swing states in last year’s presidential election. The targeted states were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.