WASHINGTON—U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a former national security specialist at the Pentagon, issued the following statement following reports that an upcoming book by journalist Bob Woodward provides additional information on two Florida counties whose election infrastructure was breached in 2016, though this information has not been confirmed by federal authorities. Murphy has called for increased transparency in the event of election interference by a foreign adversary and is the author of bipartisan legislation, the ALERTS Act, that would require notification to appropriate members of Congress, relevant state and local officials, and potentially affected voters when an election system is breached and voter information may have been compromised.
“These reports continue to demonstrate just how much voters are unwisely kept in the dark by our government about election meddling and how this confusion only serves to destabilize trust in our democracy. We cannot fight back against foreign interference if voters are not aware of potential intrusions and cannot take steps to verify the integrity of their voting information. It is past time to pass my bipartisan ALERTS Act to establish a public notification standard for election hacks and to give voters the tools they need to hold local election officials accountable and boost voter confidence in our democratic system.”
In March 2019, the Mueller Report concluded that Russian military intelligence officers sent spearphishing emails to over 120 email accounts used by Florida county elections officials in the months leading up to the 2016 election. This operation enabled the Russians to gain access to the network of at least one Florida county government.
In response, Murphy and Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) requested a briefing by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for the Florida congressional delegation on the nature and extent of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in Florida during the 2016 presidential election.
During that briefing, federal officials informed the Florida delegation that Russia had infiltrated two counties in the state in the run-up to the 2016 election, but federal officials did not authorize members of the delegation to disclose that information to the public. The counties’ names still have not been officially released.