In Russian Hacking Probe, Homeland Security To Examine Durham County Elections Laptops

Jun 5, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security said it will analyze the laptops used by Durham County elections officials during the November 2016 election to investigate possible Russian hacking.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in that election said that Russian hackers “installed malware on the company network” of a voter registration technology vendor in the United States, according to a story today in the Washington Post.

The story said that North Carolina elections officials have been concerned that the vendor mentioned in the report was Florida-based VR Systems, which provides electronic voting equipment in a half-dozen states, including Durham County.

Hacking the poll books could not alter vote totals, but it caused delays at the polls. 

On election day in November 2016, North Carolina elections board officials ordered Durham election workers to switch to paper pollbooks after their laptops malfunctioned.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that a review of the laptops “may help to provide a better understanding of previous issues and help to secure the 2020 election.”

The North Carolina elections board’s preliminary investigation into the e-pollbook issues determined that human error was to blame.

But the elections board said it doesn’t have the technical expertise to “forsensically” examine the laptops to know for sure.

“We will continue to work closely with Homeland Security and other county, state and federal partners to ensure North Carolina voters are confident in our elections,” said Karen Brinson Bell, North Carolina's newly appointed elections director.