The top elections official for Dallas County says she was wrong when she claimed earlier this year that Russian hackers had attempted to access county voter registration rolls prior to the 2016 presidential election.
County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security last fall warned the county of “23 occurrences” in which county web servers were vulnerable to access by outside parties.
Pippins-Poole said she took the word to mean hacking attempts.
An assessment by Homeland Security has found that Russian hackers targeted state election systems, and Pippins-Poole said that based on a conference call with agency officials, she assumed Russians had attempted to also access Dallas County.
She now says that was not the case and that she had misunderstand federal authorities.
“That was my take on what they said,” Pippins-Poole said. “That was my summary. I’m not the subject matter expert.”
Stanley Victrum, the county’s chief information officer, said federal officials were highlighting potential areas of weak security in Dallas County’s system that could be exploited by hackers.
“It’s just like me standing on the outside of the county administrative building describing, ‘You’ve got a window that’s cracked,’ ” Victrum said. “It doesn’t necessarily say somebody went through the window and stole something.”
Victrum previously reported to county officials that his information technology department had no evidence of attempts at infiltration by Russian hackers.
“County IT is not privy to any information regarding Russian hackers attempting to hack into the systems or websites which Dallas County controlled and used for the Dallas County November 2016 general elections,” Victrum wrote in June.